Years ago, homes were built with little consideration for the environment. Builders and homeowners chose materials based on budget or function, not thinking much about recycling or if the choices they were making would conserve energy or release harmful chemicals.
Today, people are much more likely to use green building materials when designing or remodeling a home. Whether you’re building a home addition or updating an existing space, nearly every aspect of your remodeling project can be eco-friendly. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas for inspiration.
3 Great Green Building Materials to Consider for Your Home Renovation or Remodel
One of the best ways to be eco-friendly is to keep your heating and cooling costs low. One simple step to doing that is to replace your old windows with new energy-efficient models. Choose double-paned windows with Low-E glass that will trap heat inside in the winter and reflect the sun’s UV rays in the summer. While there are triple-paned window options, these windows tend to add cost without creating much return in terms of energy efficiency.
Green windows don’t just stop at the panes, however, you’ll also need to update your window frames with materials that don’t transfer heat and cold. Wooden window frames are the best option, although they are pricier and require more upkeep. Vinyl is more cost-effective, although you’ll be limited in your choice of color. With a vinyl or aluminum exterior and wooden interior, wood-clad window frames are a great middle-of-the-road option between cost, function, and maintenance.
Save Energy With Heating and Cooling
Once you’ve got your windows all buttoned up, the next step is to ensure that you’re heating and cooling your home in an environmentally-conscious way. If you have an existing fireplace, consider fitting it with a pellet stove insert. These stoves burn pellets made of compacted sawdust, heat more efficiently than traditional wood stoves, and don’t generate the nasty creosote, ash, or emissions.
You might also consider installing a geothermal heating and cooling system in your home. These devices use the natural ground temperature (around 55 degrees Fahrenheit) to generate heat and cool air via a system of pipes that are buried next to your house. Geothermal systems use very little electricity, making them a truly earth-friendly option.
Solar power is another fantastic way to keep your home comfortable in the summer and winter. Active solar heating systems work well in places where it’s sunny and cold in the winter months, while hybrid solar air conditioners are good cooling options for the summer. An active solar heating system collects the sun’s heat and stores it, sending it out as needed through radiant floor heaters, forced-air systems, or radiators. When the weather is sunny, hybrid solar air conditioners run off of solar power and charge up a set of backup batteries for use when clouds appear.
While wooden flooring used to be en vogue for remodeled homes, there are currently many other options that create a warm look without harming the earth’s forests. Cork is an incredibly popular option, moving from wine bottles to home floors. Cork flooring comes from the cork oak tree. Harvesters don’t chop down the entire tree, but rather remove just its bark. Because the bark grows back within three years, cork makes an easily sustainable flooring option.
Another similar choice is bamboo. Anyone who has ever planted bamboo stalks in their backyard knows how fast these plants can grow. The plant matures in as little as three to five years, making bamboo one of the most attractive green building materials.
If you have questions about the best way to update a space to make it more eco-friendly, talk with your contractor. Utilizing green building materials in your home remodeling project may take a bit of research and pre-planning, but it’s worth it in the end. After all, it’s our Earth you’re saving!