Last time we published an excerpt from a 2009 e-news article on the Green movement and Sustainability from owner and founder, Brian Martin. This week we’d like to extend the conversation by adding more from the e-news article and share more on Brian’s thoughts on “Sustainable Remodeling.”
Moving Toward Sustainability
As a firm engaged in the remodeling industry, one of our privileges is helping our clients think about their homes as it relates to sustainability. We have also been working at incorporating sustainability into our business practices. We recycle our paper, cardboard, aluminum, copper and other scrap metal. We use direct deposit and pay most of our bills online which reduces the use of paper. We also use much of the scrap wood from our projects as fuel for our wood stove and fireplace which keeps it out of the landfill and reduces our use of fuel oil for heat. We often donate usable items from our projects to the Habitat for Humanity Restore or place them out by the driveway where people can pick them up for free. The fact is, according to Jay C. Walter of the Sustainable Waste Management Collaborative, “75% of the waste generated in a typical residential remodel can be recycled or reused.” I am not sure we are there yet, but it is something to work toward. We are also reading a lot to make sure we stay up to date on cutting edge technology and sustainable building practices like using Insulated Concrete Forms(ICF’s) for foundation walls and Structural Insulated Panels (SIP’s) for walls and roofs . Our challenge is communicating our knowledge and expertise to our clients and potential clients. We want to be able to provide you with accurate and timely information. Something we are learning more about is just how inefficient most of our homes really are.
What kind of fuel mileage does your house get–your HFE (Home Fuel Efficiency)? Are you living in a clunker? Isn’t it fascinating that most of us are more concerned about the gas mileage of our car than we are about the efficiency of our homes. Most people don’t realize that the average house in the U.S. is the source of twice as much greenhouse emissions as a single car every year. And the really sad fact is that a huge percentage of those emissions is due to easily corrected deficiencies in the envelope of the home that allow air infiltration. The horrible gas mileage that would never be put up with in a car, is completely overlooked when it comes to our homes. In fact, many older homes in the U.S. are so inefficient, it literally is the equivalent of opening your front door and leaving it open all winter. Just as cars need maintenance and tuneups in order to operate at peak performance, so our homes need tuneups and regular maintenance in order to maximize their performance. Those tuneups can include:
- A Home Energy Audit that shows where your home is losing energy–this helps us to create a long term plan for improving the energy efficiency of your home.
- Additional insulation and air sealing
- Weatherstripping and caulking
- New energy efficient windows and doors
- More energy efficient new appliances
- New energy efficient Standing Seam Metal Roofing
- Changing air filters regularly
- Installing ceiling fans
- Installing dimmer switches and/or motion sensor switches (did you know that dimming your lights by 20% saves roughly the same percentage of electricity and extends bulb life by four times. Check out this cool Lutron Calculator–then call us to install your dimmers) A typical dimmer has an ROI of less than five years. Motion sensors switches automatically turn lights off when you leave the room.
The good news is that there are now Tax Credits available for many of these tuneups. We are planning to replace the windows in our house this year in order to cash in on the 30% tax credit available for qualifying windows.
How about you? Do you need advice or counsel about tuning up your house? Is there a way that we can assist you in making your home more sustainable? We can help with all of the things listed above and more. Small projects like this really are an investment in the future that in some instances have a relatively fast return on your investment. When you do the math, you really cannot afford not to do them. Give us a call or refer us to your friends and we would be pleased to help you think through the gas mileage your home is getting.
If financing is an issue, we can help with that too. We are a Trained Contractor for the Keystone HELP (Home Energy Loan Program). Loans are available for Energy efficient home improvements.
And if you would like to continue this conversation with your own thoughts, please give us your comments.
Have a great week.
We are Master’s Craft Construction, a Montgomery County Area Design Build and Remodeling firm serving the Suburban Philadelphia metro area from our base in Hatfield, PA.