Consider Your Green Remodel's Carbon Footprint

Mary Butler

There are so many ways to be kind to the planet, from recycling cans and bottles to driving less. All affect your carbon footprint, the measurement of how your actions generate carbon emissions, which in turn accelerate global warming and climate change.

The U.S. is responsible for more than 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, with each American contributing about 20 tons of carbon dioxide a year--the most of any industrialized nation.

But you can help turn around that staggering statistic with your green remodel. About 60 percent of your environmental footprint is related to your home--how you live in it and operate it. This year alone, more than $180 billion may be spent to remodel existing homes in the U.S., many of them less than a year old, according to the Live Green Live Smart Institute. Just think of how much lower emissions would be if those dollars were spent in ways to lower each household's environmental impact?

Reducing Carbon Footprints: What Can You Do?

  • Reuse or recycle materials. Instead of demolishing, deconstruct the rooms you plan to remodel. Just about everything--even fiberglass insulation and conduit metal--can be repurposed by you or someone else. 
  • Buy materials at architectural salvage yards, which offer everything from clawfoot tubs to two-by-fours, as well as unused construction site leftovers. 
  • Seek out local materials rather than buying from overseas vendors. Sure, bamboo is sustainable. But why not weigh whether it's a better solution than another environmental material that doesn't have to be shipped thousands of miles? 
  • Don't skimp on insulation. It's one of the best ways to increase energy efficiency.   
  • Choose low-energy appliances. Look for the Energy Star rating.  
  • Consider investing in photovoltaic solar panels to help power your house.   
  • Offset your emissions. Several organizations, such as CarbonFund.org, invest your donations to support renewable energy, energy efficiency, and reforestation projects, such as building wind farms or replanting forests. 

Green Remodeling: Do Your Research
You can use carbon footprint calculators, such as Build Carbon Neutral, but none of the calculators are entirely accurate or able to consider your green remodeling project's special needs. It's far more important to be mindful and do your research.

When it comes to remodeling, everybody weighs cost, functionality, and aesthetics. You can go the extra mile by narrowing your focus to consider only those products that are sustainable and use the least amount of resources to end up at your doorstep.    


About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado-based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.


About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.

Search Improvement Project