You may not realize it, but by choosing to remodel your home instead of buying a new one, you have already made a choice to live sustainably. Remodeling your home allows you to reuse materials that are already in place, reducing your carbon footprint, and lowering energy consumption. Plus if you choose to remodel your home in an eco-friendly way, your renovation will have minimal environmental impact while making your home more efficient, reduce harmful emissions, and help improve overall air quality.
Another term you may have heard of is “green remodeling.” Green remodeling is the design and construction of projects that reduce the environmental impact of remodeling such as energy, water and materials consumption, waste production, and harmful emissions inside and out. Green remodeling and sustainability work together…with the overall goal of ensuring the needs of today are not compromising the needs of future generations.
Committing to an eco-friendly remodel can also personally change the life of you and your family in many ways. From reducing energy bills, tax credits and rebates, to doing something positive for the environment, making the decision to “refresh instead of replacing” is definitely a rewarding way to go. So now that we’ve convinced you that an eco-friendly remodel is the right choice for you and your family, where do you start? Since most can’t look to remodel their whole house all at once, we suggest a room-by-room approach, and starting small with a bathroom renovation. Read on for four 4 of our recommended steps when going green with your bathroom remodel.
Step 1: Do Your Homework
Like all successful projects, starting with research and a plan will ensure the best outcome. Since more than twenty-five percent of all household water usage comes from just the toilet, installing efficient water and plumbing systems are extremely important when it comes to a sustainable bathroom. Also add low-flow water sink faucets and shower heads to help save water. Keep in mind, low-flow doesn’t mean low pressure, low-flow faucets and showerheads use less water per minute than regular options. So you can save water, but not sacrifice your overall bathroom experience. Remember to research those products with the best rebates as well.
Anyone considering going green in their home should also want to improve their home’s indoor air quality and reduce toxins. Pay careful attention to the materials used in your bathroom sinks, countertops and cabinets. Natural ceramic and nontoxic cement are good eco-friendly solutions for sinks and countertops, while materials that are formaldehyde-free, have no-VOC or low-VOC water-based finishes, along with FSC-certified wood are all ideal eco-friendly approaches to look for when choosing your bathroom cabinets.
Step 2: Design Matters
Here’s some other good news, it is possible to have a bathroom that is both stylish and eco-friendly. Many modern, minimalist bathroom designs are a perfect match for sustainable practices. As you work up your design, start by considering ditching that tub. While nothing sounds better after a long day than soaking in a hot tub, the fact of the matter is the bathtub is a major waste of water. A full bath uses 70 gallons of water, compared to a five-minute shower that only uses about 20 gallons. At the heart of any modern bathroom design is your bathroom vanity. Look for ways to incorporate modern elements and natural colors when it comes to your bathroom cabinets. Frameless cabinets are clean, modern looking and crafted with minimal ornamentation, and work especially well for modern and minimalist bathroom design themes.
Step 3: Manage Your Budget
Going green, doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of green! The cost of a bathroom remodel can get expensive we know, but going eco-friendly in your bathroom can actually help you save some costs while reducing your carbon footprint. Start by considering using reclaimed materials on the floors or walls…finding ways to salvage what is already yours (or someone else’s!) will help you keep your budget in line. Another way to save money on shipping expensive materials and to reduce your carbon footprint is to shop local. Consider local sources when looking for plumbing, hardware, appliances and countertop updates. One of the biggest ways to manage your budget and reduce your negative impact on the environment is to deconstruct, not demolish your bathroom. Demolition causes serious damage to the environment due to material waste. Before getting started, take a strategic look at what you need to deconstruct, and what items you can reuse. Doing this as you plan your budget can help save you money in the long run by minimizing the list of materials you need to purchase.
Step 4: Bring in a Professional
Finally, if you are really committed to living a sustainable life by remodeling your home, there are design professionals you can bring in from the beginning to help you plan for your current project and even future ones. There are countless designers that are fully informed and have a personal goal of making their client’s homes more sustainable. Look for a designer that not only supports your desire to go green, but has a clear vision of your budget and lifestyle. They should understand where to best allocate your budget, what eco-friendly materials are important to use in your remodel, and what design ideas will stand the “green” test of time and which are just fads. Bringing in the right professional can be an effective way to ensure your investment ends up offering the value you expected.