Ideas to Make Your Renovations Green

Renovating your home is an exciting prospect. It’s a chance to really make your home your own and reflect your style. With the knowledge we have of the way our living environment impacts on global warming, many people are also using renovations as a chance to incorporate green practices into their homes, but are looking for something distinctive as well as green. LEED standards are great guidelines to what is needed for a sustainable environment, but what about esthetics? What we really need is renovation ideas that exceed LEED standards and look beautiful.

Not all LEED standard renovation ideas are created equal. There is one harvesting system that is a urinal that transports your water waste straight to your garden to act as a fertilizer. This may be practical, but also rather unsettling.

Here are a few other ideas that are high in eco factor, but unlike the fertilizing urinal, low in creep out factor.

REDUCE

One of the biggest costs in any renovation project is – materials. Any steps that can be taken to reduce material, especially waste material, is helping the environment. One architect in London used recycled pallet wood and bags of cement as coverings for the external walls. The wood was trimmed and treated, then hung in beautiful patterns. Bags of dry cement mix in paper bags were stacked in a stable pattern and the weather was left to provide the water to cure the cement leaving a beautifully textured, watertight wall.

Renovations and additions made out of old shipping containers are becoming more commonplace and are a great way to reduce waste. Look around for architects and contractors that can create you the space you need from an old shipping container, as the likelihood is, they have more green applications to common materials that you could use.

Thorough investigation and research is needed before you start your renovations to make sure you are selecting the best sustainable products for your project and that you buy the right amount without creating waste. There may be the perfect solution for your renovation that is a natural, earth friendly alternative that you just don’t know about yet. If you need some help, ask around. Contractors, architects and building material merchants are all aware of what is out there, but don’t necessarily get to showcase it all.

UPCYCLE

Some of the most unusual and distinctive green renovations come from upcycling old materials. There are salvage merchants who go around buying up articles from old buildings, such as churches, hotels and century homes that can be reused in a renovation. They can be made into something completely new and practical with the added bonus of being kind to the environment. With items that are produced before the age of the mass production era, the quality was of a much higher standard as they were all handmade. They can easily be repurposed into something new for your home.

Sinks, baths and sanitary ware can be re-enameled and used, as can countertops, vanities and moldings. Light fittings will need to be installed by a qualified electrician, as will old fireplaces, but there are many unusual fittings that can be upcycled for your home.

GO NATURAL

There are many ways to renovate your home using natural products that are low upkeep and kind to the environment. Some even reduce your carbon footprint on the planet.

Green bricks have been around since 1938 and allow you to build walls of plants. By using green bricks on the exterior of your home you build walls of plants that protect the walls from the elements, but also improve the air quality around your home. Green walls can be built to any height, and include any plant that you want to grow – including edible plants for somewhere that does not have a garden.

Internal walls can also be made of green bricks so that you can have the same air quality and perfect humidity inside your home. They can be in any room bringing nature in, but can also be used as part of an eco friendly wastewater reclamation system that is virtually invisible.

Cork is another product that is environmentally friendly and can be used in a number of renovation projects. Flooring, wall tiles and sinks are all available in cork and as it is harvested without damaging any trees, it is the ultimate in recycling.

Grass as a roofing material has been used for centuries and is as watertight as its shingle counterpart, with a much lower installation and maintenance cost.

Hessian and jute can be used in construction, as well as in wallpaper to cover your home with little or no impact on the planet.

By taking the time to research what is available, and to see how you can use these products to your advantage, you can create green, eco friendly renovations that make your home beautiful, and are good for the environment.

Like what we’re doing? Want to share your story or tell others? Do you have a green business in Calgary and want to get in front of a large local audience? Let’s build a green community together!