Green building and remodeling is certainly a hot topic these days. By improving an existing home rather than using resources to build a new one, we see remodeling as inherently green. Still, some remodelers who strive to reduce the environmental impact of their work struggle to communicate the practical value to homeowners.
The question is, does green remodeling really mean anything to you? Sure, you may recognize and perhaps even appreciate seeing the Energy Star label on windows and appliances, but what’s the tangible benefit of recycled-content drywall or certified wood doors to your daily life … and pocketbook?
As a professional remodeling contractor who is ready and able to respond to what our homebuyers want — including making improvements that result in better energy efficiency and indoor air quality — we also recognize that clients need to see how those efforts impact them personally.
To that end, we strive to communicate “green remodeling” options to our clients in a way that extends their interest in earth-friendliness to their remodeled home.
Hidden Gems. The bulk of a comprehensive green remodeling effort happens behind the finishes, making it tough to articulate its value. But instead of touting the R-value of the attic insulation or the solar heat gain coefficient of the windows, we talk about comfort: no more drafty feeling by windows and doors; no more temperature differences between floors or rooms; the ability to walk around in your bare feet. Those benefits seem to resonate far better than anything technical.
Easy Recycling. We want to encourage and help facilitate recycling household waste. So we increasingly plan for and provide convenient bins within a remodeled kitchen to make it easier to collect those items and get them to the curb and out of the landfill.
In that same vein, we have also installed handy compost bins in a new kitchen to collect vegetable clippings and other organic matter than can be added to a larger compost pile or collector outside and used to improve soil for a vegetable or flower garden — allowing our clients to extend an interest in local produce and organic foods to their home lives.
Breathe Easier. Whenever possible and practical we utilize materials and methods that help save energy and boost indoor comfort. Green remodeling often includes the use of non-toxic paints, flooring, and other interior finishes — as well as ventilation systems — that improve the quality of the indoor air.
But because vent fans and semi-gloss paint aren’t very sexy, we often explain the value in terms that respect allergies, respiratory problems, and other sensitivities that our clients might suffer … and appreciate not having in their remodeled homes.
Into the Future: Monitors and Electric Cars. While certainly not mainstream, in-home computer programs that allow homeowners to see and adjust their use of energy and water are great visual reminders of green remodeling efforts.
Similarly, we’ve seen electric car chargers that run on the home’s electrical service (or even solar energy) that can accommodate all-electric or hybrid cars, allowing homeowners to conveniently serve that investment in sustainable living.
It is easy for remodelers to get caught up in the details and technical specs of green remodeling; professional contractors understand that to be truly beneficial, those efforts have to relate to everyday life.
(Written by Lawson P. Calhoun, Jr. CGP, Calhoun Properties, 4813 Rivercliff Drive Marietta Ga 30067. Visit www.calhounproperties.com for more from Lawson.)