Net-Zero Green Remodeling Possible for Old Homes

Mary Butler

Green remodeling has always had its extremes. If you've ever been in a 1970's-era "earthship," you know that energy conservation can go much further than good insulation and solar panels. Composting toilets, hydroponic vegetable gardens, and rainwater collection systems can allow you to live completely off the grid, if you so choose. But until recently, few people ventured close to this territory--or thought about it.

Green Remodeling in 2009

Perhaps, that's because you no longer need to build your home into the side of a hill and stack old tires like logs to build an extreme green home. In fact, you don't need to build a home at all. You can convert your old house, thanks to today's advancing technology and growing affordability.

You can star the process through a couple of easy steps:

  • Add insulation in the floors, walls, and attic
  • Swap out single-pane windows for energy efficient windows
  • Replace your refrigerator, dishwasher, and electronics with Energy Star-rated appliances

These small steps can help reduce your carbon footprint, and can eliminate 4,500 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Extreme Green Remodeling

Today, 78 percent of homeowners earning less than $50,000 a year say they would be more inclined to purchase a green home, according to a U.S. Green Building Council and McGraw-Hill Construction survey.

But you can easily go further.

Recycling your remodeling job-site waste, preserving topsoil and trees, adding low-water landscaping and using low-VOC paints and recycled building materials can further lower your environmental impact, as well as gain you more "green" points toward Earth Advantage and/or LEED Certification for your project. Taking green remodeling another step also means considering storm water control, as well as increased daylight and ventilation for indoor air quality.

Finally, if you remodel your home using materials from or near the site and only using on-site renewable resources for energy and water, i.e. solar and rainwater collection, you could become completely sustainable.


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

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