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Going Green when you Remodel Your Home

Many home remodeling efforts take place in the summer and fall.  Before you begin a home remodeling project, consider ways you can remodel to make your home more “green.”   This can include everything from using eco-friendly products to improving energy efficiency.  Being eco-friendly when you upgrade your house is one way to honor the Jewish principle of baal tashchit (not wasting).   In addition to being a good steward to the environment, homeowners who go green in their remodeling efforts will often see more green in their wallets. Even the smallest green changes can have a positive economic effect.

Here are a few tips to help you get started as you plan your home improvements.

  • A sealed home is a green home:  Sealing air leaks, adding insulation and upgrading to energy efficient products like appliances, heating and cooling systems, tankless water heaters, low-emissivity glass for windows and doors will improve the efficiency of a home, making it more comfortable and reducing its carbon footprint through the reduction of energy used.   Investigate heating and cooling companies and window installation companies that include green options.   Better sealing in your home will keep it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer and will reduce your heating and cooling bills while you help the planet.
  • Hire green-savvy professionals. If your remodel is a serious undertaking, like redoing an entire kitchen or adding a family room, you most likely will hire a host of professionals, such as an architect to design the project, an engineer to review your plans, and a general contractor to manage the construction.  Hiring the right professionals is your first opportunity to make environmentally friendly choices. Begin by asking friends and neighbors with remodels you like for the names of professionals with experience doing green remodeling. When you meet with professionals, ask to see examples of their work and to explain what makes it environmentally friendly. Experts will know more about the toxicity and sustainability of certain products, as well as how to take advantage of natural light and heat, reduce consumption, and lower energy costs.
  • Consider what to do with demolished materials. While you’re planning how to demolish what you have, think about what you’re going to do with it. The less waste, the better. Consider whether you can reuse or repurpose old materials — for example, by turning the brick from a non-functioning fireplace into a backyard path. Also, figure out how to resell or donate any usable materials — local salvage yards may be happy to receive them.

Happy “Green” Remodeling!

Resources:  Nolo: Green Remodeling  website www.nolo.com

Angie’s List website  www.angieslist.com

 

Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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