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Giving Remodeling the Green Light

By Jason Legat, Model Remodel

Originally published in HomeMatters, a consumer publication of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.

There’s an increasing buzz around green building – and for good reason. There are many benefits to revamping your home using the tools of the green building trade, including financial savings, improved home health, upgraded appearance, and increased value. If you are considering a remodel, it’s worth taking a look at the benefits of remodeling green.

To start with, a green remodel is financially smart. Green remodels add value to your investment, and in some cases, may even qualify you for incentives and tax credits. Energy-efficient features can reduce month-to-month utility expenses and include energy efficiency options that are also good for the planet. New appliances, fixtures, and windows can add up to a utility bill reduction and at the same time make your home more comfortable. Lighting, day lighting, renewable energy sourcing and even simple tankless water heaters are just a few design decisions that will green your remodeled home. A green remodel can also protect the health and comfort of your family by eliminating many common toxins and providing a safe home. Materials with no- or low-volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be requested, which is a very important factor in air quality for overall health, especially for children and those with respiratory sensitivities. Products and materials with no off-gassing give your home a highly desirable and easy to measure eco-conscious benefit.

It is surprising how much can be done to upgrade and enhance a remodel with green materials and finishes. Recycled content should always be a first option. Another often overlooked green factor is the selection of low maintenance materials. Over the lifetime of a product, upkeep and replacement costs can double its original cost, but low maintenance materials can really help keep costs down.

To enhance the market value of your property, consider certifying your home with Built Green®. Built Green is a non-profit entity that gives consumers an easy-to-understand rating system and helps them to quantify their investments in environmentally friendly building practices. After you have considered the full gambit of green remodeling benefits and after you have decided to give your remodel the “green” light, you have some choices to make. Like any remodel, the first step in a sustainable remodel project is to define some basic goals. Are you looking at a new kitchen or bathroom? Is it time for a bedroom or home office addition? Is energy consumption or house air circulation a concern? Deciding whether there is a specific area or if a whole house remodel is wanted will let your builder know what is most important to you so you can be advised of the many options available. Setting a budget range and your expectations for the remodel duration are also important benchmarks that will help everyone start out on the same page. Your contractor will help you define and answer a lot of these questions.

A few other greening characteristics of a remodel are frequently overlooked. Creating and adhering to a waste management plan for each home remodel is essential to keeping your project environmentally friendly. To avoid contributing more waste for the landfill, spend time deconstructing, recycling and salvaging materials. Also, using locally sourced building materials reduces the carbon that goes into a home remodel through associated transport and also supports local businesses, which is definitely a sustainable, common-sense practice. Building green means that when your project is complete, your home is not only healthier but often more desirable in today’s real estate market. Next time, consider giving your remodeling project a “green” light.

Jason Legat is the owner of Model Remodel, a green construction and remodeling company. They have won numerous awards for their remodels, including the 2010 Built Green Hammer Award.

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