Sustainability - Why Green Remodeling is Important

Remodeling a home green is easier than you may think.  Green remodeling gives homeowners the unique opportunity to incorporate cost-saving and earth-sustaining green concepts into their homes.  NARI's approach to teaching Green Remodeling is an all-encompassing approach that emphasizes making a home healthy, comfortable, and efficient.  Consideration is given to indoor air quality, energy conservation, resource conservation, reduced material waste, and the use of products that are better for the environment (and for people).  

The Case for Green Remodeling                                                                                                                   
It's easier on the earth, it can lower energy costs, and it provides a healthier home in which to live.  According to the Sustainable Building Industry Council (SBIC), housing alone consumes 20% of America's energy.  Homeowners who choose to remodel green can lower their energy consumption by 30-50%.  It's widely agreed that forests produce 40% of Earth's oxygen, and that building supplies use 25% of its forests.  Remodeling green by incorporating recycled materials or sustainable species will help homeowners to tread more lightly on Earth's natural resources.  More than 15 million Americans are estimated to have asthma, and more than 28 million American's suffer from hay fever and other allergies, all of which are aggravated by poor indoor air quality, which can be improved by remodeling green. 

Benefits of Green Remodeling
Green remodeling reduces operating costs in the home by increasing efficiency, conserving natural resources, increasing the value of the home, improving indoor air quality and in turn, overall health, reducing waste, reducing emissions costs, increasing productivity of occupants, and improving quality of life.  

Energy conservation is one facet.  The average home today utilizes systems for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and most homes are not built as efficiently as they could be, all of which results in high energy consumption.  The U.S. Department of Energy believes if current building were green-improved, they would use $20 billion less energy per year.  Green remodeling puts a strong emphasis on making homes as efficient as possible with modifications like energy efficient appliances and thermostats that can be programmed at different temperatures for different times of day.  

Indoor air quality is another facet.  There are many sources that contribute to the air quality inside a home.  They include pollutants brought in from the outside, toxic chemicals existing inside the home, and the activities of the occupants that create pollutants.  Major contributors are tobacco smoke, smoke from the burning of wood, coal, kerosene or other such substances, toxic fumes from sealants or chemicals from cleaning products, lead paint, asbestos from insulation, damp carpets or fabrics, and certain pressed-wood furniture products that release chemicals into the air.  Green remodeling seeks to remedy these problems with things like better ventilation systems and using wood, paint, and sealants that are nontoxic.  

Reduced material waste and resource conservation is yet another aspect to green remodeling.  When remodeling a home, there is often a large amount of construction waste.  This amounts to 136 million tons of waste annually, according to the EPA, which in turn makes up 20% of the waste in landfills.  Green remodeling focuses on reducing this waste during remodeling and reusing materials whenever possible, as 85 to 90% of materials thrown out can be recycled.  Using local materials, building with engineered lumber, and using recycling companies to remove waste are all ways this can be achieved during remodeling. 

Use of environmentally safe products is another facet of green remodeling.  Many products and practices used in the remodel of a home have negative effects on the environment.  From chemicals and materials that pollute the air to disturbing of the surrounding landscape, a myriad of actions taken can cause harm.  With green, care is given to minimizing or eliminating products that could cause harm to the environment or the occupants during remodeling or after. 

Ways to Go Green 
- Non-toxic paints and sealants
- Programmable thermostats
- Energy efficient appliances
- Natural flooring
- Local building materials
- Natural fiber rugs and fabrics
- Recycled material roof shingles and tiles
- Energy efficient lighting
- Insulated hot water pipes
- Tankless water heaters

Article from: NARI National website

Gardening & a Healthy Home - How to Care for New Plants in Your Yard or Landscape

Watering New Plants
Watering your plant material is very important.  However, there are few factors that will determine how much water is needed and how frequently you should be watering.  The two primary factors are: weather conditions and soil conditions.

Check soil conditions before watering.  Always check the soil to determine if water is needed.  If the soil is dry at 4 to 7 inches deep, you should apply water.  Generally, sandy soils will need moisture more often than any other type of soil, but always check before watering. 

Water thoroughly so moisture penetrates the soil.  Plant roots will seek out moisture below the surface.  Deeper roots enable plants to absorb moisture from farther below the surface, even when top soil dries out.  With deeper root systems you get stronger, healthier plants. 

Avoid frequent, light watering.  Roots go where the water is.  Frequent, light watering keeps the moisture near the surface and causes shallow root systems that are more vulnerable to weather conditions, especially heat and heavy rain. 

Fertilize established plant materials every few years.  Apply fertilizer in the fall after the leaves have dropped, or early in the spring.  

NEVER APPLY FERTILIZER IN THE LATE SUMMER.  This promotes new growth, which makes the plant susceptible to winter damage by not hardening. 

To prepare your plant material for winter, you can apply phosphorus and potassium. 

To prevent the fertilizer from drawing too much moisture away from plants, water both before and after fertilizing. 

When planting new plant material, always cut any limbs that are damaged or rubbing with others. 

Always make the cut at the base of the branch collar.  Never leave a stub extending off the collar.  An open stub - like an open wound - makes the plant vulnerable to disease and insects. 

Generally, pruning should be done in late winter or early spring when the plant is dormant.  But there are exceptions to the rules.  Practice tree TLC.  Proper pruning builds strong, healthy trees that resist disease and are less vulnerable to damage from high winds. 

Article by: Southview Design, NARI-MN member

Outdoor Entertaining - How to Winterize An Outdoor Kitchen

Just like Santa, outdoor appliances need to get ready for the winter.  Here is a guide as to properly winterize your appliances.

Water Line Blow Out
When water freezes it expands, which can be problematic to outdoor appliances that have live water lines.  For any appliance that has a water supply line running to it, you will need to have it blown out to prevent freezing and bursting.  Clearing a water line is quite simple as it involves connecting and air compressor with adapter to the end of a water line and creating pressure.  If done on your own make sure you use a regulated compressor set to 60 psi, as unregulated pressure can cause damage.  Plumbers or irrigation companies may help you with this, and often will perform blow outs for low cost. 

Disconnect Electric
If left connected and outdoors, electrical systems are liable to short out.  To prevent mechanical harm; refrigerators, freezers, and ice makers should be switched off.  If the power cord is accessible, unplug the unit.  If not, turn off the circuit breaker to the outlet and then double check the appliance to ensure it is off. 

Corrosion Defense
Although not crucial, cleaning is an important step to winterization.  Pollen, dust, dirt, grease, and other particulates will build up and compromise the beautiful ascetic.  To prevent build up and corrosion, occasionally clean stainless steel exteriors with a soft cloth.  To remove oil and dirt buildup, use a neutral cleaner.  We recommend using cleaners made by Bar Keepers Friend.  Remember to always go with the "grain" when cleaning to prevent scratches.  

Outdoor appliances can not only provide great function in your outdoor space, but also fantastic ascetic.  Follow this guide to keep your beloved appliances functioning and beautiful for years to come. 

Article by: Owen Sweeney, Mom's Design Build, NARI-MN member


National Association of the Remodeling Industry
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