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Home Renovations Get Green Treatment


If you live in an older community, you have probably noticed a lot of renovating going on. Rather than trading in their homes for newer ones, many homeowners are opting instead to build an addition to get those extra bedrooms for their growing families.

A renovation project is the perfect time to turn your home into a green building – one that uses energy and water efficiently, saves on operating expenses, and lowers the building’s impact on the environment. When most people think of green buildings, they think of new construction. But in the last several years, even minor renovations have been getting the green treatment. And experts are saying that eco-friendly homes full of features such as programmable thermostats, skylights, and Energy Star appliances can add up to 25 percent more to the value of your home.

In addition to protecting the environment and saving money on utility bills, there could also be tax advantages to making energy-saving improvements. On 2007 federal tax returns, if certain requirements were met, homeowners were allowed to take a credit for installing exterior windows, including skylights, exterior doors and energy-efficient heating systems. Whether these tax credits will be available for 2008 is not yet known, but it’s definitely something to check into.

Don’t forget the exterior when you’re planning your home’s green make-over. Strategically placed shade trees can lower your air conditioning bill by 15 to 50 percent.

A simple thing that can make a big impact is redirecting the down spouts directly into the garden or a rain barrel. You can use the free water on your flowers and plants and at the same time, you’ll be preventing stormwater from your property eventually getting washed into rivers and streams where it can cause pollution.

If redoing your driveway is on your punch list, you can address the stormwater runoff problem on a larger scale by looking into installing a porous pavement. The porous surface will have openings or gaps that will allow even more rain water to sink into the ground instead of leaving your property.

There’s another renovation issue that most people don’t even think about. It’s the recycling of construction debris. Each year approximately 60 million tons of building-related construction debris is generated from renovation projects, and the recovery of materials from construction and demolition has important economic and environment implications.

The materials most frequently recycled are metals such as brass and copper, concrete, wood, asphalt shingles and drywall. Check with your county’s waste authority for a complete list of materials and places to recycle.


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