(cross published at The Beach Reporter and Eco Friendly Living Magazine)
You may not realize it, but according to the Green Building Council, buildings consume up to 40 percent of ALL energy used, add 30-40 percent of all emissions into the environment, and use up to 30 percent of all raw materials. So thinking about your home and how you can add value to it while also caring about the environment is a great idea that can help to save the planet (and save you money as well.)
Although most of us already know the basics of energy savings around the home, including replacing inefficient lighting and appliances with newer technology products,using a fan instead of the air conditioner and making sure the weather stripping around doors is in good shape before winter, but did you know that your water heater is a major consumer of energy that often gets overlooked? If you water heater is outside,consider putting a thermal blanket around it or if it’s time to replace it,check out the hi-efficiency tankless water heaters and save up to 35% on your electric bill.
Doing a major remodel? Noted environmental architect Garth Sheriff (http://www.GarthDesigns.com) of Manhattan Beach says that you should consider the source of materials. “Wood floors are beautiful, but you should ensure that you are buying woods from a sustainable source rather than a source that is stripping the rain forest bare. You can tell if the wood is environmentally friendly by seeing if the manufacturer is a member of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)”. Cork or linoleum are both eco-friendly choices as well, especially for kitchens or other areas where wood may not be suitable.
For countertops, materials made from recycled glass, crushed stone, or even recycled paper are both environmentally responsible AND beautiful. When replacing cabinetry, consider whether new doors or a new finish would work as well and eliminate the landfill waste – or at least donate the old cabinets to someplace that recycles building materials. Other ways to be eco conscious about cabinets are to choose veneers rather than solid – many more cabinets can be made out of the same lumber when using veneers.
For carpet, look for the Carpet Rug Institute (CRI) designation for low outgassing,and for other fabrics, look for those made from sustainable materials such as bamboo or hemp. Exterior surface finishes such as integral color stucco rather than paint is a great choice to eliminate noxious fumes, or else specify paints that do not contain volatile organic compounds, which are designated as low VOC.
And if all this seems too overwhelming and you’d rather just buy a new home that was already environmentally sensitive and “green”, contact Lauren (www.FabulousSouthBay.com) who understands the issues and materials and can help you find the perfect eco-friendly home for you.