Let Clients Know How Green Remodeling Can Improve a Home
Green remodelers can make many suggestions to improve a home’s energy-efficiency, maintenance and environmental health that the home owner may not have considered but would appreciate, said Michael Strong, GBP, CGR, GMB, CAPS, vice president of the Houston-based Brothers Strong, during the National Green Building Conference last month in New Orleans.
To make these suggestions, remodelers must check all the home’s vital signs in order to detect problems and offer solutions not necessarily identified by the client, Strong said.
These green improvements can include such additional considerations such as sealing and better managing home airflow, installing more energy-efficient windows and upgrading insulation, as well as using or recycling materials and using appliances and fixtures that improve energy and water usage efficiency.
Remodelers can use various tools and applications on green projects, depending on their level of knowledge and resources, Strong said. During the pre-construction phase, for example, remodelers can use a checklist to assess the house or they can conduct blower door and blaster testing for a more comprehensive report on the status of the house.
Under NAHB’s impending National Green Building Standard, the remodeler will need to establish a home efficiency baseline that can be compared with the results after the remodel. This is necessary to measure the improvement and determine the level of certification.
Remodelers can recycle materials from the home or have the home deconstructed (instead of demolished) during pre-construction and sell or donate unwanted materials. NAHB’s Green Building Standard requires remodelers to create a waste management plan for certification and additional points can be earned if a minimum of 50% of construction waste is recycled or salvaged.
Strong advised remodelers to also make sure that the ventilation is sized appropriately for the home to maximize efficiency. Additionally, they should consider improving ventilation in the attic and laundry areas.
Strong said he preferred using non-toxic paints and finishes including zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and low-formaldehyde and low-VOC wood finishings. He also uses paperless drywall whenever possible.
The zero-VOC paints don’t off-gas or emit gases as they dry, making the home's air healthier. NAHB’s National Green Building Standard specifies low-VOC paints, which off-gas less than standard paint.
Regarding reducing energy and water consumption, Strong recommended that remodelers use durable plastic PEX piping, tankless water heaters, low-flow fixtures and Energy Star appliances. He said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program provides a list of quality, water-efficient plumbing fixtures that have passed the EPA’s rigorous testing requirements.
Strong said he also uses Energy Star lighting fixtures, bulbs and other appliances to reduce home energy usage. He said he is able to convince clients that these products should be used in the remodeling project because they are of better quality and better for the client’s home.
Once the remodel is completed, Strong said he gives an owner's manual to his clients with information on how to clean and maintain their newly-green remodeled space so that they can keep it in prime condition for many years to come. The owner’s manual is part of the National Green Building Standard for remodeling projects.
Increase Your Professional Credibility
The Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR) designation emphasizes business management skills as the key to a professional remodeling operation.
Remodelers who earn the CGR become members of an exclusive national program and gain recognition as industry leaders.
To learn more about the CGR designation, visit www.nahb.org/CGRinfo, or call The Professional Designation Help Line at 800-368-5242 x8154.
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