Keep Your Next Home Project Green with These Sustainable Renovation Tips

By Kacey Bradley:
People are more and more interested in green living. This means different things to different people: some focus on making their home free from toxins that could harm their family’s health; some focus on reducing energy usage and waste, especially from fossil fuels that can harm the environment and are contributing to climate change; and others focus on healthy and sustainable eating from local produce.
Fortunately, all these goals are green, and all can be part of home renovation plans. Read on for how to integrate them into your renovation activities.

  1. Paint, Using Materials Free or Low in Volatile Organic Compounds

One of the quickest and least expensive renovation projects is painting the walls. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of transforming your kitchen nook with pale peach, or enlarging the look of rooms with a bright white or tasteful ecru. Whenever you paint, though, choose materials indicating that they are free of volatile organic compounds or are low VOC.
VOCs are toxic chemical compounds that are released into the air. They can cause symptoms like headaches and dizziness. Some are suspected carcinogens. It’s wise to steer clear of these components for your family’s health.
2. Clean with Natural Materials
Lots of renovation plans involve cleaning walls and spaces that may be newly on display because the room configurations are different. You also may be cleaning new fixtures. If you’re concerned about toxicity, you should know that many commercial spray cleaners are chockablock with toxic chemicals.
You can clean equally well using natural materials. A mixture of 1/2 cup vinegar plus 1/4 cup baking soda poured into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) of water will remove dirt and grime equally well. It can be mixed and stored for future use.
3. Go Solar for Your Energy
One of the best ways to cut down on energy use is to harness the power of the sun. If your home needs a new roof, think about placing solar panels on the roof. You will need a relatively flat area that is not totally obstructed by trees or tall buildings. Roof replacement time is an ideal time to call a consultant about solar power because putting in solar panels goes hand in hand with the condition and construction of the roof.
If it isn’t feasible to put solar panels on the roof, think about adding the power of solar elsewhere in your renovations. Solar products, from hot water heaters to rechargeable batteries, are becoming increasingly common. Solar power doesn’t use fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases, and it is infinitely renewable. As a result, it’s the epitome of green energy. Even a well-constructed sunroom can help heat your house, especially if you have southern exposure. If you have a southern-facing room with small windows, a great project would be to enlarge the windows to let the sun shine in.4. Use Products Made from Sustainable or Recycled Materials
Using brand new materials in products such as wood floors and wood or steel garage doors is essentially placing an order for more of that material to be harvested or made. Trees are integral to a green planet and shouldn’t be harvested without replenishment. Steel demands a high amount of energy for its production. As a result, it’s a good idea to be mindful of sustainable and recycling options.
Look for information on wood floors (for example) that indicates it was harvested sustainably. You can also look for recycled wood to construct a weathered, artisanal-looking wood floor.
Garage doors also can be made of sustainable or recycled material. Many steel garage doors are made of recycled content. Look for information to ascertain that wood garage doors are harvested sustainably and in compliance with environmental regulations. If your renovation project is new garage doors, there are many eco-friendly options.
5. Plant a Garden
If your renovation project includes your yard, make plans for a garden space. First, plants breathe out oxygen and breathe in carbon dioxide, so a plant-rich environment has plenty of healthful oxygen. Second, if you’re concerned about sustainable and healthy eating, there’s no way like growing food in your own yard to ensure it.
Want to harvest beans or fruit trees? Be sure to leave enough space to put in trellises or to accommodate the growth of a tree over time. It’s a good idea to leave space for rain barrels as well, so that you can water your garden with rainwater and conserve water.
Leave space to compost your kitchen garbage. Add mowed grass from the lawn and tree clippings. Compost will enable you to grow a healthy garden with minimal use of pesticides.
Many people are increasingly concerned with environmental sustainability. Many products used in renovations are toxic, so be sure to look for paints and cleaning products that aren’t. Cut down on fossil fuel energy with solar power or utilize the sun more to heat your house. Be sure to use environmentally sustainable or recycled material if using wood or steel. Ensure the health of your fruits and vegetables by growing some yourself.

Contributing Writer

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