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Green Building Upgrades To Consider Before Remodeling
August 13, 2013
My family recently moved into our renovated home in Maitland. The project was quite extensive and involved a full gut to the wood framing of the home. A renovation of this scope provided the opportunity to update and upgrade the look of the home, replace all mechanical systems, and improve efficiency of water and energy use. Many of the green building ideas we addressed in our full-scale remodel are applicable to any size project though. Below is a quick summary of topics that we addressed:
Energy – Reduce electricity consumption to lower utility bill!
Changed to LED and compact fluorescent light bulbs. They use less power and last longer.
Installed more efficient water heaters.
Installed solar tubes to bring natural light into the darkest rooms of the house. This helps reduce the time we need to have lights on.
Replaced all windows with vinyl, insulated low-e glass.
Upgraded attic and wall insulation.
Installed and sealed all AC ducts to reduce air loss. We also conducted performance testing of the duct to prove air-tightness.
Protected trees during construction and planted appropriate landscaping to help shade home in summer.
Replaced pool pump with variable speed motor. This will save us 90% compared to typical pool pumps.
Installed glass doors on fireplace to prevent backdraft from open flue.
Water – Reduce water use/waste to lower utility bill, while maintaining our quality of life!
Re-piped house with new water supply lines.
Attempted to minimize pipe lengths and also installed insulation on all hot water piping.
Installed lower-flow aerators in all faucets to reduce water consumption. It is hard to tell the difference!
Installed low-flow toilets.
Upgraded landscaping with drought tolerant plantings. Also adjusted irrigation to water each zone of plantings separately and appropriately.
Materials & Durability – Save money by using reclaimed building materials and improved building durability!
Installed 600 square feet of reclaimed oak flooring. I removed the material from a house that was getting demolished.
Salvaged beams, wood decking, and cedar siding during the selective demolition of the home. The material we salvaged and re-used equates to several thousand dollars of avoided material cost.
Installed leak detector and water shut-off system. This system shuts water off to the house in the event of a leak and alerts our alarm monitoring company. There is a sizeable insurance discount for this type of system and helps avoid a flood in the event of a problem.
Air Quality – Improve indoor air quality!
Used zero VOC paints throughout home. Low and zero VOC paints are readily available.
Installed a fresh air intake into the AC systems to bring in fresh air.
Installed a central vacuum that exhausts to the outside.Used higher efficiency filters in AC systems. These catch more particles from the air while the air handlers are operating.
Changed wood burning fireplace to gas logset and installed glass doors.Installed carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and gas detectors throughout the house. All are tied into our alarm system for active monitoring.
Opened windows/doors for a flush-out of ‘dirty construction air’ prior to move-in.
I’m sure we did many more things that aren’t included in this short list… The point is, that there any many ideas to choose from and the sooner you think about them the more cost-effective they become. Ask your licensed contractor about green building and how they can incorporate any of the ideas I’ve shared into your project.