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Going Green: remodeling and building best practices in Maine

What is building green?

Building or remodeling green is a design and construction approach that promotes the health and well-being of your family, the community and the environment.

A green building, also known as a sustainable building, is a structure that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner.

Green buildings are designed to meet certain objectives such as protecting occupant health; improving employee productivity; using energy, water, and other resources more efficiently; and reducing the overall impact to the environment

Building green is easier on the earth, it lowers 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, or build 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 natural resources. Green remodeling is becoming more popular as homeowners consider health issues, skyrocketing energy costs and natural resources.Remodeling green offers every homeowner the opportunity to reduce home energy demands, lessen home maintenance costs, and increase comfort.

Facets of Green Remodeling

Energy conservation

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 buildings 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 the day.

Indoor air quality

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

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.

Environmentally safe products

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 the 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.

building green

Benefits of Building Green in Maine

Green remodeling proves to be very beneficial for homeowners:

  • Reduces operating costs in the home by increasing efficiency

  • Conserves natural resources

  • Increases the value of the home

  • Improves indoor air quality and in turn, overall health

  • Reduces waste

  • Reduces emissions costs

  • Increases productivity of occupants

  • Improves quality of life

  • Ways to implement green into your home

Green remodeling can be done in small ways and doesn't necessarily have to encompass the entire home. It's easy to pick and choose elements that fit each particular homeowner.

  • 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

  • Quality insulation

  • Native plants for landscaping