A Greener Home Begins with a Plan
Three important steps involved in a green renovation
Thinking of renovating? Then why not consider “greening” your home.
How and where do you begin? Professional renovators know how to put it all together, how to match old and new, and how to integrate state-of-the-art technology with the existing structure of your home. Take advantage of their expertise to make your home easier on the environment and better for you and your family.
Here are three important steps you and your renovator need to work through when greening your renovation project.
1. Increasing the energy and water efficiency of your home
2. Ensuring clean indoor air
3. Choosing resource-smart materials and products
Depending on the type of renovation you are doing, not every step will be equally important for your project, or relevant. However, it’s a good idea to review each step carefully to make sure you don’t miss an option that could benefit you or the environment now or in the future.
STEP ONE - Use Energy and Water Efficiently – and Save Money
Of all the green options, by far the most important is saving energy and water. This is because the decisions you make today will have a big impact on the environment, and your wallet, for many years to come.
Think about it. Homes last a long time. Heating equipment, windows and water-consuming fixtures have a lifespan of decades. When you renovate, you have the opportunity to reduce significantly the amount of energy and water your home uses. At the same time, you will cut the cost of operating your home, now and in the future—in a world of uncertain energy prices, that‘s a comforting thought!
There is a wide range of energy and water efficiency improvements you can make:
• Replace or upgrade your heating system with high-efficiency equipment. For natural gas or oil-fired furnaces, look for Energy Star ® certified products. Some systems, such as heat pumps, combine heating and cooling. Other systems combine space and water heating.
• If your project includes opening up exterior walls or re-siding your home, take the opportunity to add insulation.
• When installing new windows, choose higher performance windows and look for Energy Star ® certification. Energy-saving features include multiple glazing (i.e. double or triple panes), gas fill, low-e coating and insulating spacers.
• Your renovator may recommend different combinations of window features for different sides of your home, to maximize solar gain, for instance, or to prevent overheating.
• Upgrade light fixtures and bulbs to LED lights. Think about skylights and light tubes to cut down the use of artificial light during the daytime.
• If your water heating equipment is getting old, consider replacing it. Today’s new systems are considerably more energy efficient. On-demand water heaters are even more efficient because they reduce “standby losses”.
• When choosing new plumbing fixtures for your kitchen or bathroom renovation, look for products with WaterSense® certification—these are among the most efficient on the market.
• If you want to enlarge your home, good design can help to “right-size” your plans. A well-designed renovation makes efficient use of space—both existing and new— and lets you fit more living into less space, reducing future energy use.
• Don’t forget about green landscaping— from harvesting rainwater for outdoor use, to selecting drought-tolerant plant and grass species, to placing trees and shrubs to provide summer shading for your home.
STEP TWO – Ensure Clean Air for A Healthy Home
Renovation is the perfect opportunity to deal with your indoor living environment—to improve the quality of the air you breathe, and protect your family’s health from molds, chemicals and other pollutants.
A poor indoor environment also affects the house itself. For instance, moisture can cause premature deterioration and reduce the lifespan of the home or its components.
• Does your home have existing indoor air quality problems? These can range from high winter humidity levels and excess window condensation, to mold problems and to allergy issues related to dust, pollen or other pollutants in the air. Most often you can see, touch or smell the problems; however, if you or your renovator suspect your home may have issues, do a thorough inspection of the entire house. Dealing with existing conditions is the right place to start. Your renovator can advise you on ways to get rid of the problems.
• Does your home have adequate ventilation? A healthy home needs proper ventilation to bring in fresh air and get rid of stale or moist air, chemicals and other indoor pollutants. Ask your renovator for advice on how to ensure proper ventilation throughout the year. Consider adding a heat recovery ventilator that delivers fresh air without extra heating costs.
• Keep pollutants out of your house. Once you have identified possible problems and their solutions, you want to avoid bringing new problems into the house. Select products and materials for your renovation that won’t compromise the air in your home. Talk with your renovator about other measures to protect the air in your home.
STEP THREE – Choose Resource-Smart Materials and Products
Homeowners have a lot of options when it comes to choosing resource-smart products for their green renovation, and new items are making it into the marketplace all the time.
Here are a few examples of the type of products that are better for the environment:
• Materials made from recycled waste, such as paper, glass, plastics, steel, wood.
• Products made from easily renewable or well-managed sources. Flooring made from fast-growing bamboo and sustainably harvested wood are prime examples.
• Natural materials that involve less processing, such as linoleum and stone.
• Locally produced products. Transportation is energy-intensive. Where available, the use of locally produced materials or products can offer environmental advantages.
• Durable products that will last longer, such as 40- or 50-year roof tiles. Every time you need to replace an item, there are environmental costs related to the production of the new and the disposal of the old. A quality product that performs well over a long time may be a little more expensive upfront but can save you money and be better for the environment over time.
• Reuse, recycle and reduce waste. As part of the planning, ask your renovator to take stock of what materials in your home can be reused. Many homes have “hidden treasures” like high-quality hardwood that can be refinished, or framing lumber, baseboards or trim that can be reused.
Contact us today at 519-716-0014 or firstname.lastname@example.org to begin discussion on your green renovation plan.
Content courtesy of Canadian Home Builders Association. To view the full Homeowners Guide to Green Renovation visit www.chba.ca.