Find Out How Green Construction Can Help Save The Planet

The term green construction is often used to describe building construction designed with the least impact to the environment in mind. Sometimes aesthetics are involved with the design of a green building – how well the finished structure looks or matches its surrounding environment – but the main consideration is on the energy expenditure required to build and maintain these structures.

According to recent energy studies, the consumption of natural resources required to build and maintain the buildings in the United States today are staggering.

As much as 68 percent of all the electricity consumed in the US today goes for the construction and maintenance of the country’s buildings. Some relatively easy green construction techniques to incorporate during construction and renovation include installing ceiling fans and windows that open to capture the breeze. Planting trees in strategic locations will also help reduce the need for excessive electricity usage when cooling buildings.

Other electricity-reducing green construction measures include situating a building so the southern exposure is fitted with enough windows to capture the sunlight throughout the course of the day so the need for indoor lighting is minimized.

Sunlight coming through southern windows also provides warmth during cooler months so the use of electricity, natural gas, fossil fuels, and wood to heat the building’s interior are minimized.

The enormous amount of fuel now being consumed to heat the country’s buildings accounts for a whopping 38 percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions in the US. The design techniques used for green construction incorporate measures to keep buildings warm without the need to burn so much fuel to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Learn How A Green Building Can Help Save The Environment

Concern for the environmental impact of building construction around the country has led to the organization of a regulatory agency called the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

The USGBC, in turn, has developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, a trademarked system that is considered the standard of excellence for designing and building energy-efficient, environmentally sound buildings in the US. These standards apply to all buildings – private, commercial, and public.

The green building rating system, as defined by the USGBC, recognizes five key factors in determining the health benefits to humans and the environment. These five factors take into consideration the entire scope of the building, from construction to long-term habitation.

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These factors are:

Sustainable site development
Minimal use of water
Overall energy efficiency
Selection of environmentally healthy building materials
Long-term quality of the indoor environment

The LEED rating system designed for green building provides specifications and standards for each phase of the construction process. Some of the standards are in use today and others are under development and will become available in the near future.

Other organizations involved with the development and promotion of the green building industry include the Green Building Initiative (GBI). The GBI is comprised of construction industry leaders who have joined forces in this non-profit network in order to bring green building options to mainstream construction sites, both residential and commercial.

The EnergyStar program operates under the auspices of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Its goal is to promote energy efficient building design through the standards they’ve established. The EnergyStar program offers its own rating system for energy efficiency.

Financial needs of the green building industry are being serviced by ShoreBank, a banking system focused on community development. It is the first ever to provide financing to developers specializing in green building practices and it conducts audits for energy efficiency in existing buildings.

Washington is the first state to recognize the importance of green building benefits. Becoming law in 2005, all public facilities, including schools, with more than 5,000 square feet of floor space must meet or exceed LEED standards for new construction and renovations to existing structures.

The city of Charlottesville, Virginia, became the first small town in the US to adopt legislation requiring green building standards. Their 2006 law was enacted to make green building practices available to more homeowners.

Find Green Products & Services To Make Green Homes

The hottest trend in today’s home construction industry is that of building green homes. Such homes are designed and manufactured with three environmental factors in prime consideration:

  • Reduction in operating costs over the lifetime of the building
  • Improvement of the health of the building’s occupants
  • Reduced negative impact on the environment

To meet the first standard when constructing green homes, architects and engineers work together to design homes that will function as smoothly and effortlessly as we have become accustomed to but that do so at reduced cost to the homeowner and the environment.

Some energy-reducing tactics include situating green homes so they have lots of windows on the southern exposure. The southern side of any home usually receives the most sunlight, and its warmth, so lighting and heating costs can be minimized.

To improve the health of the occupants, green homes use the absolute minimum of toxic materials. Many of these homes do not have wall-to-wall carpeting, which emits toxic fumes as it ages and it collects allergens over time, too.

Insulation treated with formaldehyde is omitted in lieu of insulation made from recycled denim treated with boric acid to control insect infestations. Paints made from milk and other organic bases are used instead of the more traditional toxic paints.

Reducing the negative impact on the environment when building green homes is accomplished in many ways, too. One very effective measure is to purchase building materials from sources as close to the construction site as possible. Better still is to gather building materials, such as rocks, from the natural environment surrounding the building site and to recycle into building materials any trees that were cut down to clear the site.

Recycling greywater for outdoor watering needs is an excellent way to minimize the environmental impact in green homes. Greywater is the water drained from household appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, and from the bathtubs, sinks, and lavatories in the home. This water is excellent for watering lawns and washing automobiles while not drawing from the public water supply, especially in times of drought.

Green homes cost a little more money to build than a more traditional home. The added expense comes with specialized design and engineering costs and because some of the materials used in construction aren’t yet as readily available or produced in mass as other materials are.

Once green homes are completed, however, their minimal operating costs reduce monthly utility expenses from the very beginning. Over time, this savings in energy and utilities can be expected to more than pay for the added initial building costs.

Learn How to Find a Remodeling Contractor That Won’t Rip You Off

Word of mouth is always a wonderful way to find a qualified remodeling contractor. If you know of someone who is pleased with his or her remodel project, ask who did the work.

If your project calls for some type of specialized work, such as historical restoration, decorative masonry, or custom woodwork, ask a local interior-decorating firm whom they’d call if they were working on a similar project.

Architectural firms can lead you to remodeling contractors who specialize in major structural changes to a home. This list of referrals is likely to become very handy if your remodel job includes features such as a changed roofline, relocating interior walls, or the addition of a fireplace or stairway.

The construction industry’s trade associations can also tell you which remodeling contractors are members in good standing, as will your local Better Business Bureau.

Once you’ve acquired a list of potential candidates, invite each remodeling contractor on your list to come to your home for an on-site consultation. Show them the area in question and let them review any drawings, sketches, photos, or samples that you want to incorporate. Ask for a written estimate that includes timeline, work schedule, and expense.

By the time you’ve finished this step, you’ll probably have a favorite or two at the top of your list. Wait for the estimates, however, before making a decision.

Once you’ve received a written estimate from each remodeling contractor on your list, compare them item by item, not just by bottom line only. The least expensive contractor may not be such a bargain if it will take three times as long to complete the job. Or if they work only on Saturdays.

Once you’ve got the numbers in check, consider which remodeling contractor you feel the most comfortable with. After all, it’s your home where he or she will be working and you want to feel confident that your home, your possessions, and your family are safe while the project is under way and afterwards, too.

Learn How You Can Get FREE Money With a Home Improvement Grant!

Home improvement grants are different from home improvement loans in that they don’t have to be paid back. Grants are money awarded to improve the home in a way that often makes the home more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

With that end in mind, it’s no wonder that many home improvement grants are offered by local utility providers and government entities. Grant awards are usually based on financial need so not everyone is eligible. Nor is every home improvement project.

If, however, you are in a lower income bracket or live in an impoverished area, it’s likely you have several sources from which to apply for home improvement grants.

Contact your utility providers to see what type of home improvement grants they offer. Electricity providers will likely be willing to help you make your home more energy efficient so it uses less electricity. The service you use for water and natural gas probably offers measures to help you use those resources more efficiently, too.

Local social welfare entities are another source for home improvement grants. Names of these agencies vary by region but every region has them. Some of them are operated on a city level while others are state or federal agencies.
Sometimes there are monies allocated for home improvement grants for people living in economically challenged areas. This is often the case for inner city neighborhoods and for areas affected by natural disaster, such as fire, flood, and hurricane or tornado activity.

Even illness or injury leading to long-term disability is sometimes reason for home improvement grants. Ask the social worker at your healthcare facility about them.

Sometimes repairs are needed that will bring a home back to proper working order. Not all improvements are for looks or expansion. For remodeling jobs that are more necessity than luxury, seek financial assistance by means of home improvement grants.

When repairs are needed to improve the quality of life, regardless of personal economic standing, never let finances stop you. There may be grant money available to bring more peace into your home.

Discover How You Can Home Remodel Without Breaking the Bank.

Seems the list can be endless when it comes to reasons why these people don’t want to consider a home remodel job. Perhaps their apprehension and their excuses come from a remodel job they attempted on their own and found a great deal of frustration at their efforts or maybe they hired a flighty contractor in the past to do the job and they were left with a poor job and many bad memories.

It’s entirely unrealistic to think that a home remodel job can be done invisibly. There will always be some evidence of a work in progress.

But that’s just what a home remodel job is – a work in progress.

And, like all works in progress, there is an end, a time when every home remodel job is completed and life can return to normal. Only in a much nicer home.

To minimize the shock to the daily routine when planning a home remodel project, consider the impact the work will have on your household. There are ways to make the process as painless as possible.

If your home remodel project involves a kitchen makeover, plan to eat out often. Don’t plan to spend a lot of extra money on restaurants, though, unless you just want to. You’ve got family, you’ve got friends. Invite yourself over for dinner a time or two until your project is complete. Then invite them to dinner at your house and show off all the gourmet delights that you can now create in your “new” kitchen.

Your home remodel involve a new bedroom? Bunk at grandma’s house and don’t freak out when she over-indulges the kids. This won’t last long and they’re having fun.

If the exterior is the focus of your home remodel project, make an effort to minimize the traffic flow in and out of the home. Restrict passage to just one door leading outside. The fewer interruptions the contractor has, the quicker the job can get done.

If fumes from indoor painting, new carpet, or whatever, concerns you, make plans to be away from home a day or two during your home remodel job so the house can air out and the fumes dissipate.

And be prepared for some extra cleaning up after a home remodel project. Your contractor will clean up before completing the job but you’ll probably want to do more.

Why not hire a cleaning service to give your home remodel area a thorough, professional cleaning before moving back into the new space? You deserve that and so does your pretty new home.

Yes, there are some inconveniences associated with a home remodel job but, with the right attitude, the problems can be minimized and you’ll probably be delighted with the outcome.

Learn How to Find a Great Home Improvement Store and Save Money!

Home improvement stores run the gamut from giant warehouse-type mega-stores to tiny shops specializing in just one aspect of the home. In between, there’s something for everyone.

Looking through decorating books, magazines, and even visiting open houses in your area are great ways to get the big picture but you’ll likely want to visit a few home improvement stores, too. At these stores, you’ll be able to see all the parts that go into achieving a certain look and you’ll be able to make a pretty workable estimate of time and expenses required as well.

Home improvement stores always showcase the latest materials, designs, and techniques so don’t think of them as mere hardware stores where you go just to grab the hammer, nails, and paintbrush. Browse the aisles and make note of the products on display.

The larger home improvement stores probably offer the best prices but their stock is limited to that which is most popular and mass produced.

If a more distinct style is what you’re looking for, consider the smaller specialized home improvement stores. Items in these stores may be a little pricier than at the larger stores but they are likely to be one-of-a-kind items or of limited production. Using items from these shops will help make your home unique and different from all others.

Once you’ve spent some time shopping home improvement stores, show your finds to your perspective remodeling contractors. See if they are willing to incorporate these treasures into their services. You’ll want a contractor that can get the job done your way, using the personal touches you select.
The contractor you select may also have a few home improvement stores on his or her list of favorite places to shop, too. After all, these stores are fun for the professionals and the amateurs alike.

Learn How to Choose a Home Improvement Store That Will Give Huge Savings

Beware when you visit your local home improvement store. Spending time there can become addictive.

Whether it’s one of the big-box home improvement stores that is filled from top to bottom with tools, materials, and gadgets galore or a smaller, boutique-style store specializing in just one style or product, a trip through the aisles can become a mesmerizing event that fills the mind with ideas for revamping a home of every sort.

In the larger home improvement store you’ll find a wide assortment of styles and materials from which to choose, regardless of whether it’s your bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, or garden you’re planning to redo.

Another service that almost every large home improvement store provides is instructions. They often present quick and simple classes that demonstrate how to apply or install everything from paint to flooring. They’ll send you home with written instructions, a list of supplies needed, and samples to play with.

The smaller boutique-style home improvement store will dazzle the imagination, too. These smaller stores may specialize in hardware, lighting, or window treatments but they often feature a wide assortment of items that aren’t available elsewhere.

Another good thing about these smaller home improvement stores is that they are sometimes willing to take on special orders or custom work so you get exactly what your heart desires.

Depending on where you are and what you are looking for, there’s a home improvement store sure to please. There’s no need to shop only the largest or the smallest stores, either. There’s so much in between that it’s worth a trip to see what discoveries can be made wherever you are.

Although not considered a home improvement store in the strictest sense, don’t overlook the treasures to be found at antique shops, auctions, and resale or salvage centers. Incorporating a one-of-a-kind fireplace mantel, antique window, or salvaged bricks into your remodeling project is a great way to express your own unique personality.

In fact, when you’ve got your mind set on a remodel project, almost every store becomes a home improvement store as long as you keep your mind open to fresh and innovative ideas.

Discover Just How Easy Home Improvement Loans Are to Get.

Would you like to make some changes to your current, beloved, home but the cost of achieving your dreams seems a little daunting?

Consider home improvement loans to get the job done. They are available from many lending institutions and they’re a lot easier to repay than a mortgage on an entirely new home.

One of the first places to look for home improvement loans is the bank where you have your checking and savings accounts. They are already familiar with you and value your business. They are quite likely to be honored to help you finance your remodeling job.

Perhaps you do your banking with a credit union instead of a bank. Credit unions, too, offer home improvement loans to their customers. Ask a loan officer there how they can help you get a new look for your home.

Many other lending institutions offer home improvement loans, too, so don’t overlook these possible sources of financing your dreams, either.

Comparative shopping is always a wise investment of time. Shopping for home improvement loans is certainly no exception. Consider getting loan packages for review from several sources before signing on the dotted line.

When comparing home improvement loans, be sure to compare the cost of any initial investment required, monthly payments, interest rates, and the length of time it will take to pay back the loan in full.

One thing all home improvement loans will have in common is the need for a licensed, insured professional remodeling service to do the job. You cannot get a home improvement loan for most do-it-yourself projects.

In fact, it’s quite possible a professional remodeling service will have contacts with lending institutions familiar enough with their work that they gladly make home improvement loans for the remodeler’s clients. Don’t overlook this valuable source of information.

So, whatever you do, don’t let the expense of a remodeling job keep you living in a drab, outdated home. Upgrade, expand, and spruce up with home improvement loans.

Learn how to Seperate the Good and Bad Remodeling Contractors Before You get Burned!

After your remodeling contractors are finished with your job, all you have to do is admire your new home. Find the right spot for the new furniture. Play with all the fun stuff you bought to decorate your new room, wing, or entire home.

Before hiring just any remodeling contractors, though, it is wise to make sure you are working with a reputable firm with a proven track record of satisfied clients, and a license to do business in your city or state.

It’s important that you check with your local housing or building authority to verify the credentials of the remodeling contractors you’re considering. They do some very specialized work and must meet strict government-mandated standards in order to become licensed to do business in any given location.

One reason remodeling contractors need to be licensed is because they are most likely to be working with public utilities, such as electricity, water, or natural gas. If someone works on these systems without thorough knowledge of the bigger picture, the work done in your home can pose a serious risk of danger to you and your family, to your neighbors, and to any utility workers down the line.

Because there is the risk of danger associated with home improvements, all reputable remodeling contractors carry insurance coverage just in case. Before hiring a specific contractor, make sure you have a copy of the company’s insurance policy as a safeguard against future disputes.

Chances are, however, that working with only licensed, reputable remodeling contractors means you’ll never need to worry about insurance. They know what they are doing, they are proud of their work, and they value their clients’ satisfaction and safety. They’ll do your job as if they were working on their own homes.

Don’t tackle those remodeling jobs yourself. They’re usually much more complicated than they seem at the beginning.

Instead, call a few remodeling contractors for estimates, find one who speaks your language, and let them work their magic. That’s what they do best.