Not easy being green? Think again By: greening homes

January 28, 2019
Green Materials, Indoor Health, Planning a Renovation

When people think of a “green” home renovation, they often envision high performance windows or a well-insulated attic. We also hear that while it would be nice to go green, it’s unaffordable.

In reality, environmentally-responsible renovations, when done right, go beyond windows and insulation, and can save you money.

A responsible renovation factors in the project’s full environmental footprint – from choices made before and during the build to the impacts long after completion, including carbon emissions, occupant health and utility costs.

And while an energy-efficient and healthy home will reduce your utility bills and even doctor visits, upfront costs associated with a responsible renovation are not that much higher than a conventional build – and sometimes, depending on the product, cost less.

What are the factors that make an environmentally responsible renovation? At Greening Homes, we follow five key pillars.

Responsible waste management
More than 88 percent of all construction-related waste end up in Ontario landfills. This not only taxes the environment, but your pocketbook with disposal costs. Setting up a waste diversion plan is easy and cost free – certainly in our experience. Indeed, by setting up a plan, which includes diverting fixtures to Habitat for Humanity, we often divert up to 80 percent of our clients’ renovation waste, lowering their disposable costs.

Our waste diversion set up at our Morse Street project.

Careful and informed material selection
As an efficient and healthy home is the sum of its parts, we carefully review all building materials for their toxicity levels, the amount of energy needed to produce it – also known as embodied energy – its packaging and travel distance from the plant to the home. While sustainable flooring and countertops have become widely available – and cost competitive – so too have recycled drywall, effective low-embodied insulation, and non-toxic adhesives.

PROSOCO’s R-Guard Air Dam is a non-toxic air sealant that comes in minimum packaging, helping to improve energy efficiency while minimizing waste.

Efficient design and use of resources
An energy efficient homes starts at the planning and design stages. It is imperative then that we work collaboratively architects and designers to ensure that the entire process is grounded in Building Science. This holistic approach to home renovation includes the indoor thermal environment, energy performance, air quality and building materials to name a few. Detailing is important too. We install smart fixtures whenever possible to reduce energy waste and save you money. We work with specialists in every industry to offer you the very best value for your dollar when it comes to choosing windows, lighting and plumbing fixtures, and HVAC equipment.

Design of our award-winning high efficiency Beechwood project.

Ensuring healthy indoor air quality
Materials can often look alike. Unfortunately, many products found on the market today contain toxic chemicals that degrade over time, contaminate indoor air quality and, as a result, negatively impact your health and quality of life. To safeguard our clients’ health, we consult the Living Building Challenge’s Red List to ensure that products are toxic-free. We spend 90 percent of our time indoors. It is important to minimize potential sources of indoor air pollutants while using technologies that ensure proper ventilation and fresh air supply.

CertainTeed’s AirRenew Drywall feature the industry’s first formaldehyde-absorbing technology which actively removes formaldehyde from the air, converting it into a safe, inert compound.

Smart transportation to and from site
Building efficiently doesn’t stop with detailing air barriers. Services such as RenoRun offer us efficient delivery of construction materials. This makes it easier for the Greening Homes team to travel to the site by bicycle or TTC. Bonus: your neighbours will appreciate the added street parking not taken up by trucks.