Why is “Green” remodeling becoming more relevant?
Green remodeling is often referred to as the use of sustainable building material resources. Popular examples of these materials are found in formaldehyde free plywood and particle board used in cabinet construction and counter top substrates, flooring alternatives like cork and bamboo, building materials including paint, finishes, and carpeting with low volatile organic compounds, (VOC’s), and lumber harvested from certified sustainable forests. However, green is much more than the raw materials used in remodeling construction.
The relevance of green remodeling is driven by many influencing factors; consumers’ acknowledgement of their ecological responsibility and stewardship, depleting natural resources, savvy marketing by manufacturers, and an expanding knowledge base and availability of alternatives to traditional building materials. For now though, it is the cost of and the conservation energy and water that is creating the most profound impact on the relevance of being green.
The act of remodeling an existing dwelling or structure is inherently green. The structural core is largely preserved or added on to, substantially reducing the harvesting of trees for new lumber, new infrastructure is adapted to the existing or substantially improved energy efficient mechanical systems, old un-insulated exteriors are insulated to reduce energy consumption and enhance comfort, and new energy and water management technologies integrated into a project to allow the entire dwelling to be smarter in its use and consumption of resources.
Remodeling parts or all of existing home to enhance its functional needs for space, comfort, maintainability, and livability bodes greater environmental responsibility in contrast to building new from scratch when its un-used products are recycled, re-utilized, donated for re-use, and improves the behavioral characteristics of its total energy consumption. A new energy efficient home built in a remote rural area with no public transportation or near proximity to schools, shopping, and work does little to reduce the carbon footprint on the planet if both spouses must travel 30 miles separately each way to work, drive the kids to each of their schools, sports, shopping, doctors appointments, and spend the weekend on a riding tractor to cut the lawn.
As more environmentally sensitive products and manufactures come online the availability, affordability, and demand of and for these products will prevail. It will continue to be the consumer demand for responsible utilization of natural resources and the rising costs of our resources that will determine the relevance and drive the markets’ and the construction industry response to remodeling green. The advent of a zero emissions vehicle that consumes no fossil fuel and can be electrically recharged exclusively by solar power from a plug in your garage is here. Collecting renewable, (green), energy for a home’s operation is readily available too, but the lines have yet to form to be the first ones on the block to do so, yet.