The Three Rs in Green Remodeling
You want a nice home, but you also want to respect the environment. Thankfully the two are not mutually exclusive. Home building materials are often full of chemicals, and add a lot of trash to the environment. But, did you know that remodeling a home can actually generate more waste than building a new home by many pounds? The EPA estimates that a new home build generates about 5 pounds of waste per square foot, while a remodeling job generates about 70 pounds of waste per square foot. That's a sustainable amount of additional waste.
Don't worry though, if you want to reduce your environmental foot print while also remodeling your home, so you can get full enjoyment out of it, focus on the three R's of green remodeling. It's as easy as 1, 2, 3.
- Reduce -- Evaluate what you have now that you can do without. How do the goals you have for remodeling play into the lifestyle you want to live. Do you really need the 1000 square foot addition, or can you reorganize the space you have to be more efficient. Any way that you can reduce your additions and needs the better. Consider size in relation to materials and supplies during the design process. For instance using 2 foot spacing between windows, doors and any openings makes it easier not to waste drywall due to having to cut less reducing your waste substantially.
- Reuse -- There may be parts of your current house that can be reused. Maybe you can simply refinish the floors, the cabinets and so forth instead of getting all new. You might be able to make something old look new again. Practicing careful remove instead of demolition can go far in helping you keep items that are reusable. For instance, instead of smashing the cabinets and counters, why not remove them in one piece. You can remove an entire wall, instead of tearing it apart and smashing it.
- Recycle -- Take anything you don't want to reuse to your local habitat for humanity recycle center. Items that can be used by someone else, such as kitchen counter tops, cabinets, toilets, and so forth need not be wasted. Know exactly what will be given away or sold for recycle before you even start. That way it doesn't get left at the site and ruined. Understanding what can be recycled and where to take, it in advance, also will help. You can usually recycle plastics, glass, paper, cardboard, steel and aluminum.
As you see, proper planning for green remodeling in order to reduce, reuse and recycle start at the very beginning in the planning and design stage. Design for the 3 R's. Don't make it a second thought in the process, make it the first thought before you even start the process. Think of every way you can reduce, reuse and recycle during every part of the green remodeling plan. You'll be happy you did.