Green Home Remodeling and Interiors: A Cure for the Common House

By Marla Esser,
HomeNav by Sustaining Spaces

Green: concerned with or relating to conservation of the world’s natural resources and improvement of the environment.
Remodel: to reconstruct, make over.

From these definitions, Green Remodeling could be summed up as a make-over which takes into account conservation of natural resources and improvement of the environment. A pretty good definition!

Remodeling, in and of itself, is inherently “green,” simply by the virtue of re-using an existing structure. According to Barry Katz, author of Practical Green Remodeling, “Remodeling is green by nature. The essence of remodeling means extending the useful life of a structure – in other words, recycling your whole house (or most of it).” With over 128 million existing housing units, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, green remodeling is making big headway in the housing market. Many do not wish to or cannot afford to build a green home from scratch, and are choosing to make improvements to their existing homes with green technologiesis on the brink of a revolution, realizing the benefits of going green: comfort, healthy indoor environments, lower utility bills, and greater quality of life. If a house has “good bones” – is architecturally sound, has a workable layout and in a desired location – it may be a good candidate for a green remodel.

But then what makes a home remodel green? To get a basic understanding, we walked through Patty Maher’s newest project. Patty, of Tiger Lily Development, specializes in saving St. Louis’ historical homes and making them green in the process. We experienced her vision for the finished home amidst falling ceilings and insulation. Patty undergoes a rigorous design and visioning process, coupled with her extensive knowledge of building science, to map out a project that meets both stringent ENERGY STAR requirements and historical preservation standards.

From historic rehabs to affordable remodels to sustainable interiors, there are programs, tools, and resources available to guide homeowners, designers, and builders through the process! The REGREEN program offers a set of remodeling guidelines which address the major elements of a green renovation or remodeling project – from kitchens and baths to deep energy retrofits. These elements include the site of the home, water efficiency, the home’s energy use and impact on our atmosphere, its use of materials and resources, and its indoor environmental quality. The guidelines blend product selection, building systems integration and proven technologies into a seamless compilation of green strategies and case studies.

The ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) provides practices for the design, construction and certification of remodels and renovations (as well as new construction) of single and multi-family homes. It offers home remodelers and builders an affordable process to remodel green homes that meets their goals, is appropriate for their specific climate, and meets the needs of their particular market and home buyers.

To learn more and RSVP, visit www.usgbc-mogateway.org/events.

Interested in learning more about the green home remodeling? Join us from
5:30 – 7:30 pm on Tuesday September 9th at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 36,
(2319 Chouteau, Suite 200 St Louis MO 63103) for a lively panel discussion featuring three experienced practitioners of green home remodeling!