Green Building Tips

In our "Green Tips" you will find information about the small steps you can take in your home to achieve your goals. For additional information and resources on the web click here to visit our resource links page.

Visit our Green Building services section to find out more about the benefits of sustainable building and remodeling.



Attic
Reflect heat away from your home by installing a radiant barrier on the underside of your roof. A radiant barrier is simply a sheet of aluminum foil with paper backing that can reduce heat gains through your ceiling by 95 percent. They are particularly helpful if you have air conditioning ducts running through your attic, because the lower attic temperature keeps the ducts cooler. In fact, some homeowners save more from cooler ducts than from the benefits of keeping the ceiling cool.

Solar
Adding a solar heating system to your home is one way to combat increasing energy costs and to raise the value of your home. If the sun shines on your home for most of the day in the winter, it is a potential candidate for a solar heating retrofit. The two major types of active solar retrofits are solar hot water fluid collectors that heat a fluid circulated within them, and air collectors that heat air to be distributed in the house with fans. Additionally, you might consider photovoltaic panels that contain hundreds of small silicon cells that collect the sun’s energy and change it into electricity that can be used in the home.

Bathroom
In the U.S., showers account for 18 percent of indoor water use and 37 percent of a home’s hot water use. A family of four each showering five minutes a day will use about 700 gallons per week - a three year drinking supply for one person in the U.S. A high performance showerhead uses 1-1.5 gallons per minute - up to 60 percent less water than a traditional showerhead - and will pay for itself in mere months from water-heating energy savings alone.

Nursery Room
Since WW II, at least 75,000 new synthetic compounds have been developed and released into the environment; fewer than half of these have been tested for potential toxicity to humans, and still fewer have been assessed for their particular toxicity to children. To make the nursery healthy for a new child, look for these safer products: no-VOC paint, solid wood flooring, unbleached cotton mattresses and clothing, formaldehyde-free medium density fiberboard cribs, wooden toys or toys stuffed with natural fibers.

Kitchen
As you’re designing your kitchen, think about creating a space that won’t have to be remodeled again, thereby saving energy and resources in the future. You should be able to move around three key cooking areas - the stove, the sink, and the refrigerator - easily. Consider adding features that allow you to do more than just cook and eat - like adding a small desk in an unused space or creating an area for entertaining. Also, installing a recycling center into the cabinetry makes recycling kitchen waste more convenient. The Building Materials Resource Center, http://www.bostonbmrc.org will come and pick up the cabinets and take them away for you.

Exterior
A home’s exterior wall surface is one of its most visible and defining features. Ideally, you want to choose an aesthetically appealing siding material - one that can stave off years of harsh weather, that will require minimal repainting and waterproofing, and that will optimize or avoid the use of wood. When you re-side your home, it is also a good time to consider wrapping the house with rigid foam to increase the wall insulations.

Office
As you plan for your new office space, consider what you will do with your obsolete electronic equipment. According to the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, “electronic equipment is one of the largest known sources of heavy metals, toxic materials, and organic pollutants in municipal trash waste (only pesticides are worse).” 1. Encourage electronic equipment recycling in your jurisdiction and support retailers like Best Buy and Staples that have started holding special collection days where people can bring in old electronics for recycling.
1. Source: Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition

Basement
Fixing up the basement is the easiest and most cost-effective way to create more space in your home. The basement can be transformed into a recreation area, rental suite, or home office. However, beware of a wet basement! If you can’t afford to completely remedy basement moisture problems, do not attempt to renovate this area. The finish materials will simply rot and cause odor and health problems. Call a professional or use a full-face respirator for severe mold issues.