Green Remodeling

Green building is getting a lot of attention both in the Madison area and the world. As the reality of global climate change sinks in, we as Americans have to confront our wasteful habits. Compared to the rest of the world, our homes and offices use much more energy than necessary, which increases our cost of living and reduces our competitiveness globally. (Not to mention the adverse environmental impact.)

The good news is that we can invest a small amount now to improve our homes and businesses; and in doing so, save much more money in reduced energy costs and reduced health care costs for the life of our buildings. At Chads Design Build, we realize that we have an obligation to educate our clients about these issues. Each decision made while remodeling directly affects the cost of operating a building and the quality of life for the occupants.

The way we build has a direct impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Here are some alarming statistics. (Taken from “The Natural Step” by Sarah James & Torbjorn Lahti; 2004.)

• The average-sized single-family home in the US creates between 2 and 5 tons of solid waste during construction (due to wasteful building practices).

• The average American home produces TWICE as much greenhouse gases per year than the average car.

The way we build and remodel our homes has a big impact on our carbon footprint. Thankfully, we have the knowledge and incentives to change for the better. As a partner in the Madison Green Built Home Initiative, Chads Design Build has embraced the following principles:

1. Durability: By using materials and methods designed to last a long time, we reduce waste and conserve our resources. Using sustainable materials is important whenever possible, but ultimately worthless if the structures we build will not last a long time. As a company, Chads Design Build makes a significant investment each year to train our staff to better understand the best building techniques known to building scientists. The details are critical to assuring a durable structure.

2. Energy-efficiency: Every dollar spent on energy efficiency is likely to pay back $5 dollars in energy savings. It is a standard practice at our company to ask our clients to participate in a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® evaluation. The typical insulation improvement suggested by Home Performance evaluations has a 3-5 year payback, which means that an efficient home costs much less to heat, cool, and live in. You can pay the quality-conscious remodeling contractor, or you can pay the power company. With rising energy costs, the choice should be obvious. The environmental benefits are icing on the cake.

3. Healthy indoor air quality: Toxins, mold, and dust diminish the air quality in a building, and these unwanted guests cause problems in many structures. Many toxins are in the materials that are installed in our homes, such as cabinetry, furniture, paint, and fabrics. Poor ventilation can trap these pollutants, and also contribute to mold and dust problems. Poor air quality diminishes our health, and can lead to costly health problems and expensive renovations. We partner with the Home Performance program to assure that we leave a home with better ventilation, even after improving the energy-efficiency of the structure. Similarly, our partnership with the Green Built Homes program helps us to identify unhealthy building products and to seek alternatives that create better air quality within the home.

4. Alternative products and systems:

• Solar and geothermal options are becoming increasingly available and affordable. With government tax incentives, the payback on these investments occurs even faster.

• Lumber harvested from managed (sustainable) forests was hard to find in Madison a few years ago. Thanks to pressure from consumers and local NARI contractors, both Marling and Brunsell Lumber have committed to start stocking certified wood in the coming year. By avoiding clear-cutting, we improve the health of our planet.

• Throughout the Madison area, lots of suppliers of building materials have sprung up with a “greener” option. From flooring to roofing to paint- there are options to choose that take into consideration the health of our planet.

We all need to recognize the part we play in the health of our homes, our communities, and our planet. Chads Design Build has made a solid commitment to helping you find the best possible green products for your home.

For more about green building visit the Greenbuilt Remodeled Homes <http://www.greenbuilthome.org/owner/remodeling.php> website.

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