Whether you are making an addition to your home or remodeling your bathroom cabinets, eco-friendly choices can help you conserve resources and reduce your impact on the environment. As the demand for green building materials grows, major manufactures are expanding their affordable sustainable options, so the green choice may also be the less expensive one. Here are some green guidelines to consider during your next remodeling project.
* Consider renewable sources for cabinetry. Choose wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which will be harvested from sustainably managed forests. Spruce, eucalyptus or reclaimed wood are durable, sustainable options from sources that rapidly replenish.
* Use eco-friendly paint. Most paints release toxic fumes called VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that can be inhaled even after the paint is dry. They are potentially carcinogenic and contribute to indoor air pollution. But now low- or no-VOC paint is readily available for use. Most paints rely on petroleum based solvents, but eco-friendly paints are water based and are offered in all forms including primer, finish, sealer, wax and stain.
* Opt for durable sustainable materials when replacing your floors. Linoleum is made from all natural ingredients (linseed oil) and has a life span of thirty to forty years. It resists damage and is easy to clean. Other popular choices include concrete, which can be decoratively embellished, and bamboo and cork flooring, which are both FCS endorsed. Recycled-content carpet not only produces fewer emissions during manufacturing and less off-gassing in the home, it can also be recycled when its useful life is up.
* When replacing appliances, select models that exhibit the Energy Star label. This means the item meets or exceeds international guidelines for energy efficiency. The more efficient the appliance, the more energy and cost savings you will have over the long run. You may get a rebate on your purchase as well; check with your utility company.
* The less material in our landfills the better, so consider what to do with your remodeling waste. Can any of the materials be reused in another project? Can items be donated or sold? Consider donating your deconstructed material to industrial recyclers so it can be reused in the product stream.