Sustainable Design in Home Remodeling

 

Consumers no longer have to choose between clean and cool. Just like Tesla’s supercar that also happens to be electric, recent sustainable design trends give you options that are often much more appealing that non-sustainable alternatives.

Deciding to go green with your home remodeling can be just as good for your wallet and the look and value of your home as it is for the planet.

How to Remodel Sustainably

Plan

It’s always important to think ahead when remodeling, but when you’re trying to do things sustainably, careful planning helps you be less wasteful.

The last thing you want is a project that snowballs into more work than you expected or uncovers problems that could have been addressed before the project got going.

Remodeling itself has an environmental impact, but a well thought out project can keep that impact to a minimum.

Do your Research

There’s serious money to be made in green tech and green construction. That’s mostly a good thing, but as the old saying goes: let the buyer beware.

There are few regulations governing the use of the terms “organic,” “sustainable,” and “environmentally friendly.” Some products that are in fact better for the environment contain hidden impacts, like the carbon footprint of shipping, that offset their benefits.

If you’re serious about remodeling sustainably, take the time to do a little extra research.  

Repurpose, Reclaim, Recycle

Look into reclaimed materials–more on that in a second. See what can be reused from your own project. Hanging on to tiles or wood from before your renovation and using them elsewhere in the house can be a nice way to keep what you liked about how things were.

Try to ensure that waste products, like old drywall, are disposed of in the cleanest way possible.

Keep it Classic

Yes, your hardwood floor will kill some trees, but it will also last multiple lifetimes and is unlikely to go out of style in that time.  

By sticking to classic designs and high-quality materials, you can save money and produce less waste by not having to update or remodel again anytime soon.

Consume Less

By installing energy efficient appliances and fixtures, you can cut down on your water and energy consumption. But energy savings are also a matter of design and construction materials.

Windows and doors, insulation, and even the floorplan all affect the amount of energy required to heat, cool, and light your home.

Economic Benefits of Green Design

Save Money

Right up front, designing a more sustainable home will save you money on energy, water, and maintenance costs. Not all improvements realize an ROI right away, so research the value of specific improvements.

One long-term financial benefit of sustainable remodeling is that it future-proofs your home.

Back in the day, there must have been people who thought they were getting a deal by insulating their homes with asbestos–cutting edge for its time but later proven to be deadly. Cutting a corner doesn’t get you anywhere if doing so threatens the environment and makes your home an unsellable health hazard.

By staying ahead of the game with sustainable improvements, you’re saving on potentially mandatory repairs and cleanup costs down the road.

Again, doing your homework is vital. Green tech is often a matter of doing the best we can. A few years ago, compact fluorescent lightbulbs were the energy efficient way to go. They have since been replaced by LEDs and now present a toxic waste issue.

Increase your Home’s Value

The big financial upside of sustainable remodeling comes when it’s time to sell your home. According to the Boston Globe, every $1 of annual energy savings translates to $15 to $20 of added value to your home. At the time that article was written, a homeowner who installed a $25,000 solar panel system could see an $18,000 increase in their home’s value on top of rebates and incentives that further reduce the cost of that system.

Features like low-flush toilets and Energy Star appliances have all been shown to add value to a home.

Take Advantage of Efficiency Incentives

There are numerous state and Federal tax breaks, rebates, and other incentives to drive down the cost of green home improvements and even reduce your property taxes. Who doesn’t want that?

You can find a list of California energy incentives here.

Sustainable Design Trends

Reclaimed Materials

If you’ve spent time in a trendy cafe or a microbrewery, you’ve likely seen furniture and construction made out of reclaimed materials. Maybe you’ve heard of the trend of making things from wood that had once been the lane of a bowling alley in its past life.

As we move towards more sustainable times, there’s a trend among, designers, architects, and ordinary consumers to make use of building materials that are already out in the world.

Far from hand-me-downs, reclaimed wood, metal, stone, and even linoleum can lend a beautiful patina and a feeling of authenticity to a room.  

Better Use of Space

Square footage is a resource most people don’t consider when they think of wastefulness. Reconsidering the use of space in your home has energy saving advantages, but more importantly, it increases the utility and enjoyment you get out of your home.

There’s less need to consume building materials when you reconfigure the space you already have rather than building additions.

Decluttering your interior design can add value to your home.

LED Lighting

LED lights are a quick, simple improvement to your home’s energy efficiency. These bulbs use 90% less power than traditional alternatives. They last much longer and can be integrated into a smart home.

Low Maintenance Everything

The EPA puts stickers on cars indicating how much a driver can expect to spend on gas over five years of ownership. An upfront bargain could be a gas and cash-guzzling nightmare long term. It’s the same with your house.

Less maintenance, less sealing, less replacement of parts, is usually better for your budget and the environment.  It’s important to take into account the lifetime environmental impact of your design choices and what those choices will cost you over time.

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Give us a call today, and we can help you get started with a sustainable remodeling project.