Earth is our only home. Don’t blow it — good planets are hard to find. As a green remodeling professional, we are always looking for ways to incorporate sustainability in our remodeling projects and in how we conduct our business. Here are some examples of how we do this.
Reusing, Renewing & Recycling
We are conscious of ways to reuse existing building materials; if there’s salvageable wood, trim, or doors, we look for creative ways to put them back in the project. One example is building a client’s desk out of refurbished cabinets as the base, an old door and a recycled glass as the tabletop. If a client doesn’t have a use for existing materials, we pull out reusable items and donate them so they can be reused on other homes. Appliances are either donated to a needy family as well, or recycled. If they contain Freon, (refrigerator, air conditioners, freezers) we have the Freon removed by a certified technician, and a scrap metal claimer recycles the rest of the materials.
We also look closely at an area and use materials that are appropriate for it’s location. For example, if you have exterior wood window trim that is in a high exposure area that causes rotting and has to be replaced every 3-5 years, this is a waste of natural materials. Whereas, using recycled PVC trim, which will last a lifetime, in these types of locations, you have less impact on the environment in the long run.
Another suggestion we recommend is to use spray insulation–made from recycled materials–when finishing your space, instead of the standard rolled insulation. Most homes insulated with spray foam have a higher resale value. Since it gets into all of the tiny nooks and crannies, it provides better insulation and saved cost on the extermination of bugs and vermin getting inside. Drafts are filled and the workload on your HVAC unit goes way down, as it reflects heat and cold off the surface and out of the space so you don’t have to heat and cool it. Naturally, this immediately lowers your utility bills and reduces your energy usage. Another environmental advantage–there aren’t any fiberglass particles floating around in the air and, most notably, spray insulation inhibits mold because it doesn’t absorb water.
The EPA Says…
We also stay informed on upcoming changes in environmental law such as the EPA’s new regulations on air-conditioning cooling liquid. Freon used to be the norm in cooling our homes, but Freon®–or, more correctly, R-22–is a hydro-chlorofluorocarbon that contains chlorine, which destroys the ozone layer. Beginning in 2004, the US has required reduction of Freon and by 2020, it will be banned except for recycling. Even before it was required by law, we’ve been suggesting alternative substances to Freon® to reduce CFC emissions when working on existing units, and when installing new units, to use highly energy-efficient systems with the EPA’s approved Energy Star® label.
Whenever the budget allows, we like using environment-friendly composite deck board materials, such as Trex®, a recycling leader with a legendary green reputation. 98% of Trex composite products’ contents are recycled and reclaimed plastic and wood fibers, and stands up better to the harsh environment decks face–no painting or staining, no splinters, no cracking or warping, no insect damage, slip resistant, UV resistant. A deck made from Trex-type materials will cost more than normal lumber, usually around 40-60% more. But keep in mind the future savings from not having to paint and maintain it–which is a must in the temperature swinging south–and not having to replace it in 10-15 years. You’d also be doing the environment a big favor as pressure treated lumber is treated with strong chemicals to prevent decay and insect damage. When these materials are sent to a landfill, that chemical leaches into the ground.
Even around our office, we do as much as we can to reduce our individual impact on the environment–and if we forget, Rebekah, our Marketing & Office Manager makes sure to remind us. It sincerely means a lot to us to do our part, believing that every little bit helps–if it’s in the right bin. We prevent paper waste by going as digital as possible, and what paper products we do use, we recycle. All our printer inks, batteries, electronic equipment, and the like are recycled, repurposed or donated where appropriate. We carpool, brown-bag it, keep our lights low, and even though we insist on flushing, our toilets are low volume.