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Green building choices to make on your next project

When building or remodeling a home, it makes sense to take the environment into consideration. The choices we make regarding building materials and appliance efficiency, for example, can lessen the burden on the environment while also even saving us money. As you consider your next remodeling project, here are some potential green building choices to take into consideration.

Choose appliances and other equipment that are energy efficient. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has a program that rates appliances based on their energy usage and efficiency. This ENERGY STAR program can help homeowners select appliances that maximize efficiency and minimize energy usage. Many ENERGY STAR appliances also qualify for rebates, so be sure to check the program’s rebate finder page; many are available in Whatcom County.

Reuse whenever possible. Before the demolition phase begins on your Whatcom home remodeling project, consult with your remodeling contractor about what components of your home might be able to be saved and reused. Perhaps the old siding can be reused on children’s playhouse, or maybe the kitchen cabinets can be reused in the garage.

Install skylights and additional windows. Not only can skylights and windows provide additional light, limiting the need for electric lighting, they can also be a pathway for increasing a home’s warmth through solar radiation. On a related note, be sure to consider landscaping that blocks the sun during summer but allows penetration during colder months.

Use building products that are environmentally friendly. Sustainable building products made from renewable resources offer another way to build green. Renewable flooring options include cork, bamboo and linoleum (which, made largely from linseed oil, is among the most environmentally friendly flooring options you can get). Have you heard of sheep’s wool insulation? It’s renewable, sustainable and non-toxic.

Reuse rainwater. Having a rainwater catchment system installed on your roof downspouts can make hundreds of gallons of water available for watering and irrigation from a completely free (and plentiful) resource: rain clouds. Collecting also has the side benefit of lowering the burden on the storm drain system. If you’re in the Lake Whatcom watershed, you might consider the county’s Homeowner Incentive Program, which helps people make improvements that keep runoff from entering the lake.

Use low-flow fixtures. There are ways to reduce water use indoors as well, including the use of more efficient faucets and toilets. If you’re in the City of Bellingham, contact the city for a free water conservation kit, which includes a low-flow showerhead, faucet aerators and tablets for detecting toilet leaks.

Install a programmable thermostat. If your home remodeling project includes a new heating system, you’ll want to be sure to pair that with a programmable thermostat. Half or even more of a home’s energy usage goes toward heating, so anything you can do to lessen energy use will be good both for the environment and your pocketbook. Using a programmable thermostat to adjust heating and cooling needs based on time of day and ambient temperature can lead to real savings over time.

Read more: Five
green remodeling ideas