What Is the Difference Between Eco-Friendly and “Regular” Home Remodeling?

Eco-friendly. Sustainable. The Eponymous “Green”. Those terms are almost unavoidable these days. Most everyone is concerned about the state of our environment, global climate change, and preserving our planet for future generation. That concern has sparked an explosion in green marketing. You can find “green” coffee, “sustainable” clothes, and, yes, “eco-friendly” home remodeling. But what…

Eco-friendly. Sustainable. The Eponymous “Green”.

Those terms are almost unavoidable these days. Most everyone is concerned about the state of our environment, global climate change, and preserving our planet for future generation. That concern has sparked an explosion in green marketing. You can find “green” coffee, “sustainable” clothes, and, yes, “eco-friendly” home remodeling.

But what makes eco-friendly home remodeling eco-friendly?

There are several things that distinguishing environmentally friendly remodeling and construction from traditional remodeling and construction. Knowing what these techniques are will help you sort out the remodelers who are actually environmentally friendly from the remodelers who are just using green as a marketing term.

Not Remodeling at All

One of the greenest and most sustainable eco-friendly home remodeling techniques is to not remodel at all. Large, extensive remodels create lots of waste and burn lots of energy (think of the amount of gas your contractor's truck burns going to and from a worksite every day, for instance). So one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly strategies for home remodeling is to not remodel at all.

Instead, make do with the kitchen or bathroom you already have by making small updates. Changing out the rugs and towels in your bathroom can give your bathroom a new look without a full remodel. Swapping out the hardware (like knobs and hinges) on your kitchen cabinets can give you a new flavor without demolition and rebuilding the entire kitchen.

Using Non-Toxic, Low or No VOC Paints

A fresh coat of paint is a common part of a remodel or new construction. But traditional house paint can be toxic and often contain VOCs.

What are VOCs? VOC is short for Volatile Organic Compounds. Examples of VOCs include Acetone, Benzene, and Formaldehyde. VOCs frequently give off odors. Short term exposure to VOCs can lead to cough, sneezing, sore throat, and any number of upper respiratory ailments. Long term exposure can result in cancer and liver damage.

While we can not totally eliminate VOCs in everyday life, you can minimize your exposure to VOCs. One of the primary ways to eliminate VOCs is to use low or no VOC paints.

Non-toxic, low VOC paint is good for the environment and good for you. The use of non-toxic paints and stains is one of the key things that distributes sustainable home remodels from traditional home remodels.

Recycled Construction Materials

Recycle construction materials are used commonly through the construction industry. They are used frequently to contain costs for contractors and customers. For instance, concrete is consistently recycled into aggregate to keep the cost of concrete low.

But recyclable construction materials also help make a remodeling project eco-friendly. For instance, many types of flooring are made from composited materials derived from waste wood that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.