Remodeling or Adding On
Need a new addition to accommodate your family's new addition? Think green while remodeling or adding on to improve the air quality, energy efficiency, and comfort of your home while saving you a fortune on future energy, water, sewer, and maintenance bills.
Don't wait until the construction has begun to start thinking green. Ask your designer or architect to incorporate green building into the design of the project to make the best use of energy efficiency, waste reduction, water conservation, and use of recycled materials.
You may be able to earn rebates or credits by incorporating green designs or products into your home. Check with your local energy supplier and water utility to see if they offer discounts for installing energy-saving devices and gadgets. Or check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (www.dsireusa.org) for energy efficiency incentives in your state.
Check out Green from the Ground Up: Sustainable, Healthy, and Energy-Efficient Home Construction by David Johnston and Scott Gibson for detailed instructions on building green. On the web, look for green building and design information at Green Building Solutions (www.greenbuildingsolutions.org).
Salvage What You Have
If you are remodeling a room to use as a nursery, seek out ways to salvage the materials that you already have. Old floor tiles could be used as a decorative wall mural while old curtains could be turned into blankets, pillows, or cleaning rags. Salvaging what you already have, saves you money on materials and keeps these resources out of landfills.
Conventional building materials emit VOCs and other toxins that are harmful to the environment and your family. Green building techniques minimize the emission of VOCs and other pollutants so that you, your kids, and your contractor can all breathe a little easier.
Be careful about starting a construction project in your home while you are pregnant. Some of the chemicals used and debris created during the process may be harmful to you and your baby. Talk with your health care provider about the work you intend to do and precautions you should take to stay safe.
Keep toxins out of the air by avoiding formaldehyde-based adhesives, as well as toxin-emitting paints, carpeting, and finishes. Breathe easier by replacing these solvent-free adhesives, water-based wood finishes, and low-VOC paints and carpets.
Reuse and Recycle Construction Waste
After your new room is finished, keep extra materials out of the landfill by making sure they are reused or recycled. In many cases, your contractor will be happy to take the materials off your hands for use on a future project. If not, post an ad on Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) or contact your local recycling facility or builder's exchange to ensure that extra materials are put to good use.