Green Renovations 101: How to Upgrade Your Home Sustainably

Green Renovations 101: How to Upgrade Your Home Sustainably

Green renovations let you get the new home you want while protecting the environment. You keep the earth a little healthier for plants and animals, and you keep your home healthier and safer for your family.

Renovations can hurt the environment in a few different ways. When you tear out old materials and throw them away, you create more trash in landfills. Tearing up those items can also release old materials into the air.

When you buy new things to replace what you tear out, you’re using up more materials. The harvesting methods for some materials can be damaging to the environment. Items made with non-renewable resources use up those materials and may leave them in short supply.

Sometimes materials used in remodeling release chemicals into the air. Those toxins can make your home less healthy because of air quality. They can also add toxins to the environment, where they might hurt plants and animals.

Cut down on those negative effects by using these green renovation ideas.

Refinish Existing Materials

One of the easiest ways to do green home renovations is by keeping as much of the existing material as possible. You’re not sending anything to the landfill.

You’re also not using up new materials. Those items take up resources that sometimes use up what’s available in nature. The manufacturing processes can add pollution, and delivering new materials to your location increases pollution because of the transportation used.

If you have hardwood floors, consider if they’re in good enough shape to refinish. For cabinets, you may be able to stain or paint the existing wood instead of replacing them. You can also keep the cabinets but replace only the doors for an easier update with fewer new materials.

Choose Sustainable Materials

Using sustainable materials supports your eco-friendly remodeling efforts. Sustainable materials use renewable resources so they don’t deplete natural resources.

Bamboo is one example of sustainable building material because it grows so quickly. It’s used for different building materials, particularly flooring. You can read more about how bamboo flooring holds up to see if it’s the best option for you.

Cork is another example of sustainable building material. It’s harvested from living trees, so they’re not actually cut down to make the home items.

Labels on building materials help you choose sustainable options. For wood materials, look for products that are Forest Stewardship Council Certified. That means the wood came from a responsibly managed forest.

The Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design (LEED) certification also shows that materials are sustainable. The materials have to meet certain standards to earn LEED Certification.

Green Seal Certification is another way to spot a better product option. This certification shows that a product is green, based on established standards. Those standards depend on the category.

Pick Local Materials

Another way to benefit the environment is by choosing domestic materials instead of imported ones. When products, such as Italian marble, are imported from overseas, they come with a much larger carbon footprint due to the long travel distance. More pollution during the transport process makes those materials less environmentally friendly.

Donate Items You Replace

Put down the sledgehammer and take a more strategic approach to remove old items. If you take apart the items carefully, you may be able to donate or sell them so they don’t go to the landfill.

You can donate gently used home items to Habitat for Humanity ReStore locations. The stores sell the items to raise money for the organization, so you’re helping your community and the environment.

You can also sell the items yourself through local Facebook sale groups, Craigslist, and similar sites. That money can go toward your renovation projects.

Buy Secondhand Materials

While you’re selling your old home items, consider buying replacements on those same sites or stores. You may find a gently used item that’s perfect for your project. ReStore locations sometimes have brand new materials if you don’t want to use secondhand items.

Choose Reclaimed Items

The reclaimed look is popular for everything from barn board accent walls to furniture pieces. Choosing authentic reclaimed pieces instead of look-alike reclaimed materials makes you remodel more eco-friendly. This saves new materials from being used and gives old materials a new use.

Install Efficient Appliances

If you’re replacing appliances, pick the most efficient models possible for continued environmental benefits. You’ll use less energy over the years. That saves you money on utilities and cuts down on your energy use to make your home green.

The easiest way to choose energy-efficient appliances is to look for the ENERGY STAR certification, which is available for over 65 items for the home. Those appliances have to meet strict requirements for energy efficiency. They still perform well, so you’ll still get appliances that work well.

Consider your showers, sinks, and toilets to cut back on water use. Toilets use almost 30% of indoor water in average homes. By choosing a low-flow toilet model, you can reduce how much water you use.

Use Low VOC Finishes

When choosing finishes, consider the chemicals that off-gas from them. Choose materials finished with low-VOC products to cut down on the chemicals that pollute your home’s air.

Invest in Quality Pieces

Every home renovation project has a budget, but you also don’t want to buy the cheapest materials. Those least expensive items are often the lowest quality options. That means they won’t last as long, and they’ll end up in the landfill much sooner.

Lower quality products may also be made out of inferior materials. They may be made in more damaging ways. Those materials may off-gas more chemicals, which pollutes the air.

Spending a little more on better quality materials makes your renovation a better investment. It cuts down on future waste by letting you wait longer before you renovate again.

Make Green Renovations

Your renovation decisions, from materials to methods you use, affect the environment. Choosing green renovations lets you feel better about what you’re doing for the environment and for your family’s health. Head over to our home improvement section to check out possible projects to do for your renovations.


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