How to Make Your Remodel Green

Real Estate Agent with Long & Foster, Real Estate Inc.

Renovation projects present the perfect opportunity to improve the efficiency of your home while increasing its style, comfort, and functionality. Whether you're making over your entire house or one well-deserving room, there are numerous choices you can make to create a greener abode. You'll not only lower your utility bills, create a healthier living space, and conserve resources, you'll also boost your home's value in an increasingly eco-conscious world.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, bathrooms have surpassed kitchens as the most popular remodel project. If you're lucky enough to be fulfilling your bathroom remodel dreams - whether it's an Asian-inspired sanctuary, a modern mini spa, or a romantic powder room - try these easy adjustments for greener living.

  • Recycle and reclaim. High-quality materials and fixtures, including tiles, faucets, sinks, tubs, vanities, and countertops, are often discarded for reasons such as a miscut or a customer's change of heart. Save money and resources by purchasing these essentially new pieces for your home. Or repurpose furniture you already own, such as turning a dresser into a vanity.
  • Use WaterSense products. Sinks, faucets, toilets, and shower heads with the WaterSense label are 20 percent more water efficient than average products in that category. They provide measurable water savings, which means a lower bill.
  • Buy dual-flush toilets. Two-flush systems can save you gallons of water (30-50% of normal toilet usage) by allowing you to flush with less water when a full flush is not needed.

Friends and family always gravitate toward the kitchen, so homeowners want to design a space that is functional, comfortable, and beautiful. Kitchen renovations are rife with opportunities to cut back on energy and water consumption, as well as waste production. Here are a few ideas.

  • Buy energy-efficient appliances. ENERGY STAR certified products offer exceptional style, reliability, and functionality while meeting stringent energy requirements. Smaller-sized appliances and certain designs also reduce energy consumption. For example, refrigerators with the freezer on top use 25% less energy than side-by-side models.
  • Don't replace your cabinets. Cabinetry can be the most expensive and resource-intensive aspect of a kitchen remodel. Consider resurfacing or repainting your cabinets. Another option is refacing, which means replacing the cabinet and drawer fronts while keeping the base cabinetry.
  • Make smart countertop choices. Investigate whether your countertops can simply be repaired or renewed. If you must replace, review the environmental impacts of your options, and look for salvaged or reclaimed products, whether stone, tile, stainless steel, or other materials.
  • Buy reclaimed wood products. Green cabinet and furniture makers are using mill scraps and salvage yard wood to create "new" products. They can repurpose old wood into customized, one-of-a-kind pieces without consuming new natural resources.
  • Create a recycling center. Families who designate an accessible but discrete recycling station are more likely to reduce waste by recycling effectively.

Any basement remodel is fundamentally a green endeavor because you're "reclaiming" space in your home. Whether you're designing an inviting lounge for movie watching, an all-out romper room for kids, a guest room, or a wine cellar, try these tips for making the project greener.

  • Insulate and seal. You can save 20% on heating and cooling costs with proper sealing and insulation. Use insulation, paints, adhesives, and sealants free from formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which give off toxic gases. Insulation made from recycled renewable materials, such as hemp, denim, or paper, is also a greener choice.
  • Maximize natural light. Capitalize on opportunities to bring in natural light, such as extending window wells. Also consider solar tubes that allow you to create skylights in basements. And purchase efficient ENERGY STAR approved lighting products and bulbs.
  • Use eco-friendly flooring. You can buy stylish, stain-resistant carpets made from renewable resources, such as corn sugar, as well as recycled materials, like plastic bottles. Bamboo, cork, and eucalyptus floors are other options. Many experts even consider linoleum a "green" material because real linoleum (not vinyl) is made from linseed oil, pine rosin, ground cork, wood flour, and a jute backing, and it's recyclable and biodegradable.

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