Nov 3, 2011

Consider green features for your remodel for long-term benefit.

Sometimes it seems that environmental benefits—rather than the added value—is all that you see. However, a sustainable home can save you money and improve your life.  The goal is to increase efficiency, while providing a high-quality products and finishes. To some people “Green” can mean saving the planet, the latest fad, lower utility bills, comfort, or health. Overall, the fact that the home is better for health, the environment, and lowers costs long-term is just one of many possible benefits.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY. The reduced cost of ownership is a key to saving money. You want to be insulated from future costs, especially energy.When you're buying or remodeling a home to stay for the long term, it's smart to invest up front, in products like solar energy, tankless water heaters, lighting systems and energy saving appliances. You will save annually in energy costs and you can generally calculate the payback of that investment. Investigate available tax incentives and how the local utility handles energy generation. 

INDOOR AIR QUALITY. Indoor air quality is critical long-term. Like the "new car" odor, interior surfaces can produce the same toxic off-gassing. Carpeting, paints, flooring, furniture and many more items, can have zero or low VOC's (volatile organic compound), windows and doors need proper sealing, and heating and cooling systems need to be addressed.

MATERIALS. "Green" materials can mean different things. It may be how it is manufactured, certifications it may have, how far it's transported to reach your home, and can it be recycled in the long-term. What about the waste from a remodel?  Carpets, cabinets, bath fixtures, tile and wood, among others, can all be recycled, re-used or donated.  Make smart decisions that work for your budget as well as the environment. While fulfilling all of the criteria can sometimes be difficult, you will be able to find mainstream products that are friendly to those goals but not expensive and easier to acquire, 

DOCUMENTATION AND VERIFICATION. Certifying and documenting your green home adds credibility and helps take away the liability that comes along with green claims. It can also help at appraisal time; appraisers need documents, not verbal assurances .Utility bills also provide a powerful way to tell a home’s energy efficiency story.