Remodeling University: Considering Green
With all the other issues you need to be considering and evaluating with regards to your remodeling project, do you really need to be bothered with thinking about green remodeling?
It used to be the anything green was considered almost exclusively by those who are policy driven. Costs and best construction practices were really secondary to the faithful. Green has come a long way since.
Stated simply, green is a better was to build. Independent of where you find yourself in the climate debate and regardless of your affiliations, be it the Sierra Club or OPEC, if you want your general contractor to use best practices when remodeling your home, you want green.
There are different ‘menu options’ with regards to green, depending on your project. A new custom home, or a tear down and rebuild project will have a more expansive menu of green options available to the homeowners. In these instances, house orientation, lot drainage and landscaping options could be reviewed as well.
For most remodeling projects, though, the green menu options would mostly address energy and water conservation (forget the environment, did you see those bills lately?), indoor air quality (care for this only if you breath inside your home) and sustainability issues.
When remodeling in Los Angeles, as a result of the California Building Code, you are already assured a higher (and some say, substantial) degree of green elements, as compared to the rest of the country. This is because the CBC is more restrictive not only in its structural requirements (we do get earthquakes on a fairly regular basis here) but also in its energy conservation measures (called out in the section of the code known as Title-24).
That said, you can go further, and enjoy greater energy savings, less water use and better indoor air quality.
There is much to discuss here and this subject is broader in scope than a single post. I hope and plan to return to this subject in future posts, but here are some principals:
1. Start by spending on items with best return on investment. This usually means reduce your energy consumption as much as possible (see below).
2. If your water bill is growing faster than the federal government, you should consider investing in water saving elements (for both indoors and outdoors).
3. Investigate and take advantage of currently available incentive programs from federal and local governments and from the utilities.
So, how to save energy? Here are just a few ideas you can utilize right away:
1. Replace all light bulbs in your home with CFLs or LED lights.
2. Improve the air-tightness of your doors and windows.
3. When changing appliances, consider to the unit’s energy performance.
4. Change pool timer to work at off peak hours.
5. Improve the insulation of your home.
6. Consider solar panels for generating electricity.
These are just a few highlights. Your best bet is to consult with green professionals who could provide far broader recommendations that are tailored to your home and to your lifestyle.