8 Eco-Friendly Renovation Tips
Maybe you don't want a forest-green home, but you can still keep the environment in mind when you decide to renovate. Follow these tips to ensure an energy efficient and non-toxic home improvement project.
- Think before adding square footage. According to This Old House, "adding unnecessary square footage doesn't just result in the excessive use and disposal of building materials—you also have to factor in the extra heating, air-conditioning, electricity, and furniture you'll need to service the living space."
- Get an an energy audit. A home improvement project is a great time to learn where you might improve your home's energy efficiency. Visit Angie's List or Yelp to find a highly-rated professional energy auditor near you. They can offer great tips to save on your energy bills.
- Find a LEED-certified contractor. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) trains professionals on the latest green building practices. Find a LEED-certified contractor at the USGBC website.
- Choose non-toxic paint. Look for low-VOC and Green Seal certified paints avoid the most dangerous solvents. Most companies now offer low-VOC options.
- Dispose safely. Never pour thinners, solvents or paint down the drain or storm drain. Put them in tight-fitting jars or cans and have them picked up or delivered to a certified hazardous waste disposal site.
- Use locally-sourced, recycled/salvaged and sustainable materials. According to Freshhome, "antique shops and consignment shops are great places to visit for items such as doorknobs, light fixtures and even mantels." Look for salvaged wood and other materials on Craigslist, salvage yards, and even demolition sites (get permission first, of course).
- Choose energy-efficient appliances. Look for the "Energy Star" label on appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators and visit the Energy Star website to learn more.
- Donate. Consider donating excess renovation materials to a local theater group, parks department, school, or organization, or take it to a community exchange. Many towns have “drop and swaps” once or twice a year.