6 Ways to Embark on an Eco-Friendly Renovation
Eco-friendly living is all about choosing materials and practices that are beneficial to the environment. But did you know this can also include your renovation process and the materials you use?
“There are five things everyone should consider for an eco-friendlyrenovation: water conservation, air quality, energy savings, recycling, and buying sustainable lumber,” says Thom Kuntz, director of merchandising for 84 Lumber. For example, when you purchase lumber, he recommends using a retailer that sources it from a mill that practices legal and responsible harvesting.
“It’s essential to reclaim, recycle, and repurpose materials. If you’re willing to put in some research and a little extra work, you can have a successful renovation that benefits your lifestyle and the environment,” Kuntz says.
So what are the best practices for having an eco-friendly renovation? Get the top go-green guidelines below.
1. Assemble your green team
During a home renovation, you need to communicate to your architect, designer, and contractors your desire that the process be as environmentally sound as possible. Erica Reiner, owner/principal of Eco Method Interiors, an eco-friendly interior design and consulting firm, says there are many people who specialize in this type of work.
“With certifications from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) to the International WELL Building Institute, they will be able to guide you on how to use greener materials and practices that suit your particular project,” she says.
Asking the right questions can also help you find the right people.
“When you’re vetting contractors, prioritize those who will demolish your home in a careful way and salvage materials like aluminum, wood, and glass,” says Michael DiMartino, senior vice president of installations at Power Home Remodeling.
2. Focus on the roof
Need a new roof? This is one area of the home practically made for going green.
“Rooftop solar panels can help you save on energy costs and lower your carbon footprint,” says Alex Pecora, director of residential product management at CertainTeed Roofing. “This includes newer, low-profile solar systems that integrate with existing shingles or tiles and blend seamlessly with the roofline.”
The cost of solar panels varies by state and company, but on average, you can expect to pay about $3.70 per watt. This means that the average-size 5-kilowatt solar system would run about $18,500.
Another eco-friendly option is metal roofing, for example, in aluminum, copper, or steel. Pecora says this material lasts a minimum of 50 years and is usually 100 percent recyclable.
“Metal roofing also accommodates solar-reflective paints that significantly reduce rooftop temperatures,” he says. “This can lead to a noticeable reduction in air-conditioning costs, particularly in the hotter months.”
3. Prioritize energy-efficient products
Learn which types of appliances and household products are available in energy-efficient versions.
“Energy-efficient windows and doors are essential to preventing heat and cold transference, protecting your home from harmful UV rays, and helping to keep maintenance costs down,” DiMartino says.
Take a look at three measurements when selecting energy-efficient products: U-factor (or rate of heat loss), solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), and air leakage.
“For each of these measurements individually, the lower the number, the more energy-efficient the product,” DiMartino explains.
Opt for certified EnergySTAR appliances and lighting, and WaterSense products for water-efficient toilets, shower-heads, and bathroom faucets.
4. Consider concrete
Flooring comes in a multitude of eco-friendly options, including bamboo and cork, but concrete stands out as a clean choice for flooring and walls.
“Concrete is one of the greenest materials out, because it can be sourced locally and has less of a carbon footprint from production, transportation, and importation than other materials like tile, carpet, marble, and even wood,” says Earl Choate of Concrete Camouflage in Isabella, MO. It’s also extremely durable and can be recycled.
And if you’re concerned about concrete looking dark and gloomy, an acid stain can mimic the look of stone or marble and brighten the surface right up.
5. Pick out pre-loved furniture
You can show some love for the environment—and your wallet—by shopping used furniture and home accessories. Reiner suggests beginning your search on apps like Letgo, OfferUp, Nextdoor, and Facebook Marketplace, where people are selling high-quality name brands. For trendy, antique, or hard-to-find pieces, she recommends websites like Chairish and AptDeco.
And of course, be sure to check out your local flea markets, estate sales, and thrift stores to score stylish furnishings at great prices.
6. Repurpose and recycle materials from your home
The flip side to purchasing pre-loved stuff is deciding how to reuse or donate the items you already own.
“Hardwood floors, wood, and windows are some common reusables,” says Michelle Tascione, environmental strategy manager at 84 Lumber. You might even be able to refinish old hardwood floors instead of buying new ones.
If you can’t find a use for the materials in your home, there are always organizations that are willing to accept donations. “Habitat for Humanity and Construction Junction take old kitchen cabinets and leftover lumber,” Tascione says.
There are also carpeting stores that repurpose unwanted carpeting, as well as paint recycling centers where old paint can be remixed into new colors and resold.