Living in an environmentally friendly, sustainable lifestyle is a primary concern in 2021, with real estate at the heart of this movement. Nonetheless, while people realize the importance of reducing their carbon footprint, few have an understanding of how to effectively renovate to achieve this goal. If you are struggling along these lines, the following renovation projects can help in making your home more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Interior Design by Urbane Design
- Make the House More Passive
Passive design refers to incorporating strategies that utilize natural energy opportunities to minimize energy use consumption in the building. The strategies can be incorporated through building orientation/location, passive solar, natural lighting, natural ventilation, sound barrier, building materials, etc. Natural ventilation and lighting have everything to do with windows. Retrofit and upgrade of windows, skylights, and other opening elements of the house help to prevent air infiltration, reduce energy losses, and reduce the usage of artificial lighting. These factors can increase the health and comfort levels of occupants and be economically efficient.
While vinyl or aluminum window frames are likely the choice in contemporary window renovations due to their outstanding aesthetics and durability, the passive design is all about placement. In colder climates, use south-facing windows to help natural sunlight reach deep into the house. In warmer climates, consider the advantages of eaves and shutters to help shield the home from the sun’s heat waves.
When renovating windows, it is also worthwhile to consider the benefits of smart glass. While more expensive to install, it can drastically reduce energy consumption by changing its light- and heat-transmitting properties based on the ambient temperature. It is also important to consider the U-Factor and the SHGC factors when exploring more affordable window options. The U-Factor measures how well a window insulates, typically indicated by a range of 0.20 to 1.20. Smaller U-Factors will indicate better insulation. The SHGC factor is the solar heat gain coefficient. The lower the SHGC, the less solar heat transmitted by the window, indicating a product with better shading properties.
- Recycled Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood flooring is, without a doubt, the most timeless option for flooring, giving the home an air of natural elegance. However, hardwood floor installation comes with the cost of continued deforestation.
Fortunately, there are ways to achieve the durability and aesthetics of natural hardwood in a more consciously sourced manner. Bamboo floors offer virtually the same benefits as a traditional hardwood floor, but bamboo crops can be harvested, fabricated, and re-grown in a fraction of the time as timber.
There is also the option of choosing recycled hardwood flooring. Using this method, old hardwood floors are reshaped and retreated, reducing waste and the need to cut down any additional trees. In addition to being environmentally friendly, reclaimed hardwood is a strong choice to fall in line with contemporary design trends, as modern homeowners are increasingly craving a more rustic appearance with charming imperfections.
- Upgrade the Siding
Siding is one of the most crucial elements of establishing a home’s curb appeal. However, it is also one of the home’s first lines of defense against the forces of nature, so quality siding must be able to withstand years of UV rays and inclement weather to be considered sustainable.
To this effect, fiber cement and steel log are a couple of contemporary products that will last for at least 50 years with minimal maintenance attention required. When upgrading to one of these durable siding options, consider the benefits of window shutters, as they can provide a wonderful aesthetic complement to the new siding while further protecting the home’s exterior from the elements.
- Metal Roofing
Like innovative siding, the best roofing options will last for decades without requiring replacement. With that said, metal roofs are becoming an increasingly popular choice in eco-friendly homes, as they can last the lifetime of the home in most cases.
Furthermore, cool metal finishes increase the reflective properties of the roof, meaning that solar heat is not readily absorbed in warmer climates. In colder climates, snow is less likely to accumulate on metal roofs than on other roofing materials. Finally, metal roofs are one of the best choices for solar panel installation, making them an elite choice for homes looking to take the next step in environmental friendliness.
- Reinvest in Insulation
It may seem like common sense, but insulation is at the heart of all energy efficiency efforts, as it can greatly reduce unwanted air transfer into and out of the home. However, there is the mistaken belief that once a home has been insulated, it is set for the rest of its life.
While quality foam board polyiso insulation should last for at least 100 years, many common fiberglass batts and spray-ins can start to lose their efficacy in as little as 20 years. As a result, it may be necessary to replace the wall insulation if your home has been standing for a couple of decades.
- Durability in the Kitchen
With people spending increased hours at home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to ensure that the cooking area does not need to be constantly cleaned and repaired in the face of the increased traffic. Therefore, remodeling your kitchen using stainless steel fixtures and nonporous quartz countertops to keep cleaning and maintenance efforts to a minimum.
- Service the Attic
Whether or not you make use of the attic for storage purposes, it remains an essential barrier in your home against heat, cold, and humidity. Therefore, in order to control your home’s energy consumption and ensure safety and indoor air quality, it is vital that the attic be well insulated and in good condition. Make sure there is no moisture buildup, check for signs of damage to the walls, and take steps for insulating attic doors to help make your home as energy-efficient as possible.
Renovating for Sustainability
Although aware of the importance of sustainability, many homeowners are unsure how to proceed in creating an environmentally friendly home. By considering the aforementioned renovation projects, you can reduce your home’s carbon footprint and make it as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible.
Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.