Green home remodeling doesn’t just apply to the finished product or the materials used. If you are hiring a remodeling contractor, you should consider how to make the renovation process itself “green.” Here are some steps a green home remodel must include:
Control Potentially Harmful Dust
Dust is an inevitable side effect of remodeling, but it can contain asbestos, lead paint, or other particles you don’t want to inhale. During a remodeling project, remodeling companies must use barriers, such as plastic covering doorways, to contain dust to the renovation area. In addition, they should cover work areas with plastic tarps and wet down surfaces before sanding or scraping. If your house was built before 1978, assume that it contains lead paint and ensure you work with a properly trained contractor.
Provide Proper Ventilation
A green home remodel shouldn’t expel pollutants into your home. Responsible remodelers use exhaust ventilation, such as a fan, that pulls air out of the work area and vents it to the outside. This helps expel dust and other pollutants, and it creates a pressure barrier that prevents pollutants from spreading to other parts of the house. Activities such as installing flooring and carpeting or painting can emit pollutants. Remodelers should provide ventilation during these activities and for at least 72 hours afterward.
Another element of green home remodels involves controlling radon. Radon-resistant new construction (RRNC) is designed to draw radon from the soil and vent it through a pipe to the roof, preventing it from entering the house. The technology is routine and should not add much to a house’s cost. If you are building an addition with a basement, you should ask to include RRNC features.
Use Recycled Materials
Choose recycled glass for beautiful and unique countertops, tiles, and even flooring. Doors and lighting fixtures in a green home remodel are often repurposed flea market finds. Many homeowners like the look of reclaimed weathered wood from old barns and farmhouses for floors or ceiling beams.
Pick Sustainable Materials
A lot of wood used in construction comes from slow-growth forests where it takes a long time to replenish the trees that are cut down. Consider quick-growing bamboo for floor or cabinets in your home’s green remodel. Cork and Eucalyptus are other sustainable flooring materials. You can also choose wood from sustainably managed forests that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Ensure Indoor Air Quality
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can trigger asthma and contribute to other health problems. Carpeting, paint, or wood finishing products are often sources of VOCs. Even if you ventilate during and after installation, emissions can linger. Look for products that have low or no VOCs. Mold can trigger asthma and allergies, so take excessive moisture into account when you plan a green home remodeling project.
Joaquin Erazo, Jr. is the senior vice president of marketing and public relations at Case Design/Remodeling, Inc. Find a green remodeling company near you now!
Learn more about green home remodeling in our blog.
(c) 2010 Joaquin Erazo, Jr.