Choosing a Contractor

The Many Shades of “Green”

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past five years, you’ve heard about being green: it’s in the news, magazines and books and on t-shirts, water bottles and the web. A green market has blossomed offering a host of green products and services; you’ll now find recycling bins in homes, businesses and many stores and, happily, you now have an abundance of options and choices if you’re undergoing a green home remodel.

Yet, for each home remodel, whether it’s officially deemed “green” or not, there’s some good news: “sexy” products aren’t the only contributing factor that will make your project green. By default, the vast majority of all remodels bring environmental benefits, including:

  •   ALL new kitchen appliances will be more efficient than there fifteen year-old counterparts. New appliances have been improved to meet higher standards and support lower energy usage.
  • ALL new toilets use less water than they did five years ago.  The new duel flush toilets use only .o8 gallons per flush (versus 6 gallons per flush) and provide huge improvements over a twelve year-old toilet.
  • ALL insulation products have seen improvements and show increases in the “R” values, where the “R” stands for Resistance. To understand what “R” value is, consider the analogy of “R” values to the miles per gallon model. Insulation with an R-38 value will be more efficient than insulation with a R-30 value, just as a car getting 38mpg will be more efficient than a car getting 30mpg.
  • ALL bath fans are more efficient and a greater number are being installed in home remodels.
  • MANY paints, carpets and solvents now release fewer VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) as they “off gas”. Also, paints, carpets and solvents are now being manufactured in more environmentally-friendly ways.

Additionally, all new shower heads are more efficient and use less water. Yet, unfortunately, this improvement may bring the biggest disappointment to homeowners when they remodel a bathroom.  Most will miss their old, powerful showerheads, but the new products have eliminated the option of allowing water to come out with dramatic force. Water conservation and management are the largest, global environmental issues we face.

Another matter to consider in the practical “greening” of home remodels is how contractors handle construction waste. Many contractors now remove old cabinets, sinks and countertops that are in usable condition and donate them to not-for-profit organizations like ReStore and Community Forklift, who resell these pieces. The water and energy saved in manufacturing new items is truly significant; hence reusing large, previously owned items can make a clear environmental impact.

Green remodels and green living comes in many shades and materialize in a lot of ways. Practical, considered decisions are at the heart of all green choices, and several green outcomes will likely manifest just by undertaking a remodel and altering or replacing items in a space.

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David Merrick
Merrick Design and Build

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