If you're thinking of renovating or adding an addition to your home, congratulations! It's a big decision and one that will likely change your life in many ways. But if you want to do it in the greenest way possible, there are some things we can do together that will make both your project and the planet better off. Here are my top ten tips for making sure your renovation is as green as possible:
Use green materials
Use recycled materials.
Use sustainable materials.
Use local materials.
Use non-toxic materials.
Use low VOC paints and finishes.
Install low-flow water fixtures.
Installing low-flow fixtures is a great way to reduce your water consumption, save money on your water bill and help the environment. A typical flow rate for faucets and showerheads is 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm), while low-flow models use only 0.5 gpm or less — that’s a reduction of up to 50%.
Low-flow water fixtures are more expensive than standard models, but they pay for themselves in as little as six months with savings from reduced water bills, according to Consumer Reports. Plus, some states provide rebates for these types of products through utility companies or local governments — which means you can get back some of the cost difference!
If you have an older home with existing pipes and plumbing systems you may need to invest in a new internal aerator for your faucet in order for it to function properly when using low flow rates instead of high ones (which usually require more pressure). You can also retrofit existing systems by replacing aging parts such as showerheads with newer versions designed specifically for lower flow rates without having any negative effects on performance or durability over time."
Use low-flow toilets, showerheads and faucets. These devices can save thousands of gallons of water per year.
Use water saving devices like water efficient washing machines, dishwashers and clothes dryers.
Collect rainwater for watering plants - put a rain barrel in the downspout of your gutter or install an underground cistern to store rainwater for irrigation purposes (but not drinking).
Compost food scraps to reduce waste going into landfills or compost piles that emit methane gas when decomposing organic matter breaks down inside them (methane is 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2).
Go LED with your lighting.
LEDs are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. They use up to 90% less electricity, which means they're also cheaper to operate and have a smaller carbon footprint.
LEDs last longer than most other light sources, so you won't need to replace them as often. That translates into huge savings over time because you won't have to spend money on new bulbs or pay someone else to do so for you.
LED bulbs are brighter than incandescent or fluorescent ones, which makes them great for lighting up large spaces like hallways or staircases while making it easier for everyone in the house (including guests!) to see where they're going at night without blinding themselves in the process!
Insulate, insulate, insulate.
Insulation is one of the most important things you can do to save energy and money. There are a lot of misconceptions about insulation, so it's good to get a few things straight. First, it's not all that difficult to insulate your home yourself if you have experience with home construction projects. However, if you don't know what you're doing, hiring an expert is always a better way to go since they'll be able to assess potential problems and provide solutions more quickly than someone who doesn't have experience in this area.
Insulation costs money—often thousands of dollars per house—so make sure that whatever type of insulation material you choose will fit within your budget before committing yourself on price alone!
Find environmentally friendly ways to manage waste.
Many home improvement projects will inevitably generate waste. You can reduce the amount of waste you produce by using environmentally friendly ways to manage your construction debris.
Reuse and recycle materials whenever possible. For example, cut your own lumber instead of buying it at a store. Also, if you're demolishing something like an old shed or garage, consider reusing the wood in your remodel instead of sending it to the landfill.
Compost organic materials such as landscape trimmings and food scraps instead of sending them to landfills with other trash or recycling them into useful soil amendments for gardens and compost piles (if composting is allowed in your area). This reduces the need for artificial fertilizers in agriculture as well as greenhouse gases being released from decomposing organic matter in landfills.
Choose recycled materials when possible.
Recycled materials are good for the environment, your wallet, and your health.
Environment: Recycled products are made from materials that would otherwise end up being landfilled. They have a smaller carbon footprint than their non-recycled counterparts. In addition, many municipalities include recycling in their garbage collection service, which means that when you put something in the right bin it will be picked up and reused or recycled into something else.
Wallet: If you go with recycled materials you can save money on installation costs and save money over time by reducing energy consumption (which reduces utility costs). Let's face it—we're all trying to save some coin these days!
Health: Many people don't know this but some paints already contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde or lead! By using non-toxic paints/materials during your renovation project (and not just during building construction) you'll reduce exposure to these harmful substances in your home environment—especially if there are kids around who would lick off those walls!
Design for flexibility and durability.
Design for flexibility. You'll save money in the long run if you think about design elements that can be easily removed and replaced when needed, such as new appliances, cabinets, countertops or fixtures.
Design for durability. Consider durable materials such as stone or tile rather than laminate or wood veneer. In some cases, these materials require less maintenance over time.
Design for future changes. If your family is growing or shrinking, consider choices that will work well in a variety of sizes—for example: large windows or skylights that let light into dark rooms are much easier to change out than smaller ones would be; if you need additional storage space later on down the road because you're overstuffed from all those years of not throwing anything away (guilty), make sure there's room for more cabinets under the kitchen sink; if there's no room on either side of your fireplace mantle for picture frames (because we've all had this problem), don't put any up now so they'll fit later on when your collection grows too large!
Make the most of natural daylight and ventilation.
Natural light is better for your health, your mood and the environment.
Natural ventilation improves air quality and reduces energy usage.
Use natural materials like wood, stone and plaster to reduce toxic emissions from synthetic paints and finishes.
Use natural colours like pastel shades that are easier on the eyes than harsh whites or greys.
Choose finishes such as linseed oil for its low VOC levels rather than standard varnish which releases toxic fumes into the air when it's being applied (and even after!)
When you renovate you have the perfect opportunity to make environmental choices that will pay off for years to come.
When you renovate, your home is an ideal opportunity to make environmental choices that will pay off for years to come. Adding green features such as solar panels or a rainwater collection system can save you money on your utility bills, but switching to more energy-efficient appliances and lighting can help save the planet too. Here are some other tips for making renovations as green as possible:
Make the most of natural daylight and ventilation by opening up walls or adding skylights;
Choose recycled materials when possible;
Consider low-VOC paints and carpets (low-VOC means low volatile organic compounds—the chemicals released into the air when a product is manufactured).
We hope these tips have given you some ideas on how to greenify your home. There are many more ways to go about it, but these 10 tips should get you started on the right track!