Thursday, 14 March 2013

Remodel, But Think Of The Environment Too

Green building construction has been a hot topic in the construction industry for many years. And while the focus on green new construction is long overdue, what about the older homes that were built before the importance of green building materials and techniques were recognized? According to a study done by Harvard University, there are more than 120 million homes in America that are over 32 years old. Over $233 billion is spent each year on remodeling them. These older homes were built when energy was cheap and the environmental impact of construction was not recognized.

What Green Remodeling Achieves

It is estimated that about 800,000 homes are remodeled in this country every year. On an average it can be assumed that the life of the remodel will be around 30 years. One way of looking at is that each year green remodeling can produce 24 million years of green living (800,000 x30). And green living means greater energy efficiency in the home, cleaner air, better all-round comfort and lower maintenance costs. If the monetary value of this is factored in the 24 million year figure the resulting figure is mind numbing.

These number may be too big to relate to as an individual. Why not look at it in simpler or direct terms? It is not possible to put a value on comfort and clean air, but what if the savings on energy costs and maintenance are in the range of 20% per year? How much does this come to for your family each year? And how much will the total savings be in the 30 year cycle. And don't forget to put in a margin for inflation in your calculations.

What Is Green Remodeling?

Green remodeling is based on four main principles - energy efficiency, good indoor air quality, durability and efficient use of resources. Put together, this is looking at the house not merely as an inanimate object made up of wood, steel and concrete. It is now a functioning system that needs to be refined and fine-tuned to allow it to operate at optimal efficiency. Because of the amount of research has been done in recent years on this system, remodelers today have huge amounts of information at their disposal which allows them to maximize the green aspect of their remodeling projects.

Green remodeling has a much wider impact too. The use of sustainable materials and minimal pollution along with energy saving building techniques means that the negative impact of the remodel on the environment is minimized. The results of green remodeling are to be seen both indoors and outdoors.

The Basics Of Green Remodeling

The basics of green remodeling include:
  • Installing appropriate insulation
  • Installing high efficiency windows
  • Installing low-flow water fixtures
  • Sealing exterior penetrations that can cause heat loss
  • Using Energy Star rated appliances
  • Installing a high efficiency HVAC system
These are all part of most remodeling projects so doing it the green way is easy.

Green Building Is Cost Effective

Many homeowners appreciate the importance of going green when remodeling their homes. But they are often reluctant to follow this route because of a perceived additional cost that green technology and materials use will involves. This is actually a fallacy. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that using green technology and materials will either add only a few percentage points to the project cost or will not affect it at all. When this is compared to the expected savings over the 30 year life cycle of the remodel, the cost implications and potential savings, both immediate and long term, are enormous.

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