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Affordable Green Building

With all of the recent attention brought to conservation and the preservation of our natural resources, many of us have a desire to do our part when building or remodeling. Despite our good intentions, sometimes a tight budget can be an obstacle. Surprisingly, not all green options are more expensive; actually, some are even cheaper. Especially if you consider cost over time, many green products are more durable and have a longer lifespan.

If you’re planning a new home or addition, many green products can replace traditional building products. Here are some alternatives to traditional materials.

  • Enviro Board is an inexpensive alternative for lumber and can be used for exterior or interior walls, roofs, ceilings, sub-flooring, insulation, and door cores.
  • When it comes to flooring, bamboo products, cork, marmoleum, and recycled tile are all affordable alternatives to carpets and hardwood floors. Wool carpeting is another natural, renewable, and non-toxic product. Another idea – leave your flooring exposed. There are some attractive dyes and paints available to finish concrete flooring, eliminating the need to use additional resources.
  • Non-toxic wall finishes include non-toxic paints, plasters, and sealants. By using different glazings, such as low-solar-heat-gain-coefficient (SHCG) glazings on your walls, you can also add some energy efficiency.
  • Use alternative countertops – bamboo and Paperstone are a couple of options available.

You can build “green” by the building methods you utilize as well. If you’re on a strict budget and can’t afford features such as solar energy and other green products, have your contractor employ some of the following tips throughout the course of your project.

  • Renovate older buildings – by renovating existing buildings, you can reduce the amount of new materials used in your project, as well as reducing time and money spent on new-project permits and inspections.
  • Build small spaces – reduce materials, time, and cost by eliminating excess. Keep your project to the minimum of what your needs are. A well-planned layout can help you to do more with less space. Reduce the amount of windows and minimize East and West facing windows. This makes the most of solar orientation, and reduces the house’s cooling load. Install operable windows for optimum air circulation and energy savings.
  • Save water – eliminate the garbage disposal, as this uses a significant amount of water and contributes large amounts of organic waste load into sewer treatment plants. Composting is a great alternative when possible. Additionally, consider installing water-efficient fixtures such as low-flow toilets or waterless urinals.
  • Provide task lighting over ambient lighting; eliminate or limit outdoor lighting through motion sensors.
  • Consider patios or Trex decking over wood decks.

Even if you’re not able to go completely green in your project, you and your builder can work together to include as many of these tips as possible. One of our certified contractors can discuss your ideas and give you a free estimate. Don’t allow a tight budget to discourage you from building your project as green as possible.


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