Is that Green Remodeling Company Really Green, or Something Shadier?

From on January 02, 2008 in Green Remodeling

There’s an almost hypnotic buzz that goes along with the word “green.” More than just a hue on the color wheel, the word carries significant connotations related to environmental sustainability and natural well being. Unfortunately, numerous remodeling businesses out there find it all too easy to piggyback on an otherwise wholesome global trend, increasing their marketing potential toward conscientious homeowners without really believing or investing in green practices. It’s not always advisable to take a company’s word at more than face value. However, resourceful homeowners who take the time and effort to incorporate day-to-day alternatives can easily separate the green from the greedy. A good way to start is by asking 3 simple questions.

1. Is the remodeling company a certified green business?

Any company can put money into a new logo or company slogan that misleadingly portrays it as part of the green movement. Companies that volunteer for green certification, however, must verify compliance with environmental regulations. Furthermore, certified remodelers often have environmentally friendly values built into their general business practice in order to go beyond minimum standards. These include monitoring water use, energy use, and waste generation, as well as providing additional incentives and training opportunities to employees.

As you walk into a purported green business, take the time to look around. Indications toward authenticity are easy to spot. Does the company print materials on recycled paper? Is the paper double-sided? Is the company office lit with energy efficient bulbs? Are there visible bins for recycling paper, aluminum, plastic, and glass? While these options and others are not required to be certified, they are certainly more ubiquitous among green companies.

Green Building LogosGreen companies will be listed under a certification board. CalFinder, for instance is a certified Bay Area Green Business and includes several green remodelers on our roster. You can also check listings under national registries, such as Co-op America or look up regional listings such as San Diego and Santa Monica Counties’ participating green businesses. If your potential remodeler claims certification, verify that their company name is listed under said board’s list. Contractors working under a green business are required to have the credentials, such as Green Building Credentials, a LEED Accredited Professional credential, or a Green Building Professional Certificate.

2. Does the remodeling company use or promote green building products and businesses?

Green remodeling companies will encourage their clients toward minimum waste. Salvaged and recycled material should always be a feasible option to a green remodeler. If building components, such as bath fixtures, can be left in place, they will go the way of refinishing rather than complete replacement. Green remodeling companies also promote the use of alternative building materials, such as VOC-free paint and formaldehyde-free panels or cabinetry. For instance, they might use products with the Green Seal. They should also be aware of various sources, such as Green Fusion, from which to purchase these materials.

3. Does the remodeling company provide information and resources on how to reduce waste, increase sustainability, and be more energy efficient?

Green remodelers believe in sustainability for their business and as a general lifestyle choice. CalFinder, for instance, provides a Green Remodeling Blog and a regularly updated library of information on topics such as solar energy and energy-efficient products. Look for similar language in your potential remodeler’s mission statement or explanation of practices. Listen to the manner in which the contractor advises you on building procedure and energy use, and be aware if eco-friendly options don’t come up in your initial conversation.

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