Going “green” is a trend that is ever rising. Today, consumers are increasingly interested in protecting our Mother Earth. People are becoming more intentional about choosing products that are energy efficient and sourced responsibly while trying to minimize waste and reduce pollution. And, while some may argue that keeping your home the way it is, is the best way to preserve the environment; it isn’t always desirable or practical. Whatever the reason for your renovation; there are ways to be more responsible. Here are my top 15 green home renovation tips.
Before getting out the sledgehammer, do a walk around the space you intend to renovate to see what can be salvaged. Carefully take apart anything that can be re-used (kitchen cabinets, lighting, doors, etc.) and donate it to a Habitat for Humanity. They will recycle your items to build a home for a family that is less privileged. You can even call the local ReStore to pick up the items from your home free of charge. It’s easy and it relieves families that need help - helping you to feel good about your renovation:).
Re-face cabinets, repaint existing baseboard, trim and doors for a fresher look without the waste or cost of replacing these items. Evaluate the spaces that need something new among the ones that just need a re-fresh. Re-purposing your current items in different rooms can make a huge impact. For example, your old dining room chandelier might look fab once painted white and hung in your daughter’s bedroom.
3. BUY RECLAIMED MATERIALS
Companies that provide reclaimed wood and building supplies are cropping up all over. Find a place like The Timeless Material Co. to provide you with quality reclaimed flooring, mantles, countertops, doors, windows, hardware, plumbing, masonry, etc. The Timeless Material Co. works to provide quality, re-purposed materials that are not only eco-friendly, but also beautiful.
Photo Credit: The Timeless Material Co.
Probably the most obvious tip for your green home renovation project is to donate unwanted items. Hand down old furniture and décor to friends, family, thrift stores, consignment shops or someone in need. Remember the old adage?...“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Photo Credit: @lorenklein via Twenty20
5. CONSIDER PRE-OWNED OR VINTAGE FURNISHINGS & DECOR
Thanks to organizations such as Craigslist, Kijiji and Freecycle, consumers no longer hesitate about using pre-owned items. Consider purchasing some gently used items for your green home renovation. Depending on your style, budget and comfort level, buying pre-owned furniture may or may not suit your needs. That said, you should at least consider it. Many times pre-owned furniture is in great condition or just needs a little refinishing to make it look new. Check out places like Lucy Pearlle’s Vintage Market or Chatelete Home for pre-owned furniture and décor with character and history.
Photo Credit: Lucy Pearlle's Vintage Market6. THINK RECYCLED
Perhaps your style is more modern than rustic, industrial or vintage. If that’s the case, think of choosing recycled glass countertops or backsplash tiles, cork, bamboo or linoleum flooring. You can even use recycled concrete for foundations and slab floors. On the exterior, consider roofing made from recycled rubber tires, like this one by Euroshield.
7. CHOOSE RESPONSIBLY
When purchasing products and supplies for your green home renovation, choose items are sustainable. A sustainable resource is one that replenishes in the same about of time that it is diminished. FSC certified wood from a company like Breezewood Floors and or organic fabrics are great examples. When sustainable isn’t an option, whenever possible, select products that are toxin free or at least have very few toxins such as Benjamin Moore’s Natura paint line with low VOCs. Also look out for formaldehyde-free plywood, low emission grout and caulking, as well as recycled rubber cushions and consider recycled steel for accent furniture.
Photo Credit: Breezewood Floors8. BE MORE EFFICIENT
As a parent of two ‘lil ones, this point has double meaning. However, with respect to green home renovations and interior design, I’m referring to purchasing energy-efficient appliances and ventilation systems. If you’re in the market for a new stove, consider induction. Gas and electric stoves typically lose 50% of their heat to the surrounding area, whereas induction stoves don’t, while being more energy efficient. Use LED or CFL light bulbs whenever possible and choose water efficient dishwashers, toilets and faucets to conserve this invaluable resource.
9. CONTEMPLATE CARPETING
Sadly, many carpet manufacturers still use toxic adhesives, stain protectors and flame retardants in the carpeting they supply. While carpeting is soft of the feet, in some cases, it’s hard on the respiratory system. Don’t get me wrong, there are options, but you need to be mindful when making choices. Carpeting is a natural insulator which can help with energy costs. Just make sure you’re choosing carpets that are made from natural fibers such as wool or with recycled materials such as recycled plastic, polyester or nylon. Or, instead of carpeting, choose wood, cork, linoleum, bamboo, concrete or stone tile flooring. Natural fiber area rugs or carpet tiles are other great options. Carpet tiles give the look of broadloom without the waste because you can replace soiled sections when necessary instead of replacing an entire carpet. This saves the landfills and your money. Just make sure to select an eco-friendly product.
Photo Credit: Forna Cork Flooring via Amazon10. ADOPT SOLAR POWER
It’s no surprise that solar energy is becoming more and more on trend. When it comes to your green home renovation solar panels are a worthy investment. While the upfront cost is substantial, the energy, environmental and money savings over time just make sense.
Similar to solar powering your home, insulating your home well helps you to use less energy for heating and cooling your home, thus reducing your overall carbon footprint. Opt for fiberglass, rock and slag wool or cellulose insulation over spray foam as they are more environmentally friendly.
One way to decrease your electricity consumption is to increase your access to natural light. For your next green home renovation think about adding a skylight, adding more windows to your home or increasing the size of your existing windows.
If it’s practical, plant a few trees around your home. They will provide shade in the summer months to help with cooling costs, as well as protect against harsh winds in the winter months to assist with heating costs.
Everything is getting smarter these days; including thermostats. Get a programmable thermostat for your green home renovation. Use it to create a heating and cooling schedule that follows your family’s routine. This will help to keep temperatures comfortable while you are home and reduce energy usage when you’re not.
15. SUPPORT LOCAL
My last green home renovation tip is to shop locally. One thing some people forget when making thoughtful choices is where their chosen item or material came from. Supporting businesses local to you is important, not only for regulatory reasons, but also environmental. Before buying flooring, cabinetry, insulation, solar panels, etc. consider the distance that each of these items travelled to reach your home or the store you purchased them from. If these items travelled from far and wide to get to you, think about the fuel that was consumed to get them to you and the environmental impact of the trip before making your purchase.
There you have it – 15 tips to assist you with your green home renovation. And, in case you weren’t aware of it already, Ontario has introduced a Green Home Renovation Rebate Program to assist with the cost of making environmentally sound product choices for renovation projects. Find out which programs you qualify for at Green Ontario Fund. If you have any other tips you’d like to contribute, please leave them in the comment section below. And if you need assistance with layout challenges or decorating advice, please contact us; we’d love to help you!
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In the meantime take care and happy renoing. :)
Principal Designer | Orangetree Interiors
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