Thursday, October 23, 2008

Renos pay off for you and Mother Nature

Renos pay off for you and Mother NatureMaking environmentally friendly decisions when you spurce up your home could bring a big return on your investment, especially if you redo the loo or carry out kitchen upgrades
Posted -38 sec ago

Today's home renovations aren't just about making a house more stylish and comfortable; many projects are undertaken to reduce the impact a home has on the environment.

With the increasing demand for green living environments, homeowners no longer have to choose between whether to make their space look better or perform better.

Making eco-friendly decisions during renovations could potentially pay off in the future, according to a recent survey by Royal LePage. The survey found that making ecofriendly kitchen and bathroom renovations can result in up to a 100% return on your investment.

Thinking of renovating? Here are some ways to give your kitchen or bathroom an eco-friendly facelift.


While kitchen designs and redesigns are usually about fashion and function, a little green thinking can go a long way. Eco-friendly upgrades will not only benefit Mother Nature, they can bring improvements that reduce everything from waste disposal to allergens if you plan properly and choose the right materials.

Rachel Finer, a kitchen design specialist in Toronto, says the materials you use to upgrade your kitchen can greatly improve indoor air quality.

Materials such as formaldehyde, plastic and particle board can carry toxins capable of poisoning the air you breath and, in some cases, even the food you eat. Luckily, suppliers and manufacturers have taken this into consideration and now offer a variety of p ro d u c t s that can actually improve indoor air quality.

"There is definitely a trend toward all-natural components," says Finer, who points to features such as glass tiles and natural stone or butcher's block countertops. Other Earth-friendly products include exotic-looking cabinets that aren't made of endangered wood types and flooring materials such as reclaimed wood, cork and bamboo.

Finer has also noticed that people are becoming increasingly concerned about waste management and garbage disposal in their kitchens.

"Thirty years ago nobody talked about garbage," she says. "Now there are accessories everywhere" designed to make waste management easier and even more fashionable than ever before - from stainless-steel compost bins to slide-out drawers for recycle bins.

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Planning to update your appliances? Be sure to look for Energy Star products. Appliances with this certification meet government energy-efficiency guidelines. Though the initial cost may be a little high, these appliances use less energy and water, which is not only good for the environment, it's also good for your wallet.


"When it comes to bathrooms, green means thinking about water conservation," says Shane Judd, product development expert for Kohler.

Judd notes that today's bathroom fixtures are much more efficient than they were 10 years ago.

One of the simplest ways to make your bathroom more environmentally friendly is to install a high-efficiency toilet, he says. By making the switch, you'll be consuming up to 20% less water than a regular toilet uses.

Another option is to install a high-efficiency showerhead. Comparable in cost to regular showerheads, these fixtures can consume up to 30% less water.

One of the cheapest ways to conserve water in your bathroom is to install a low-flow aerator on your faucet. "You'll be consuming up to 36% less water than with a standard faucet," says Judd. "And you really can't tell the difference. It's a simple and inexpensive solution. Simply unscrew the aerator and for a just a few dollars you've made an ecofriendly decision in your bathroom."

The good news is that in order to be environmentally friendly, you don't have to sacrifice style and performance.

"You really can look at design and style choice first, it shouldn't be a tradeoff," explains Judd. "You get expert design and style and the added benefit that it's also eco-friendly."

If your budget is a little more flexible, there are many stylish ways to up the green factor of your bathroom. When shopping for vanities and cabinetry, look for products made of renewable materials. Judd recommends searching out natural materials like bamboo or others that can be grown or engineered easily.

Not only are these pieces beautiful, they'll also improve your indoor air quality. And while they may be a little pricey, they are worth the investment, says Judd.

"They're not going to wear out and you won't find yourself having to replace them in the long run."

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A Healthy House is bright, open, energy efficient and welcoming. It can be new or renovated, in downtown or suburbia. Wherever you find it, the Healthy House is characterized by five key elements.

1OCCUPANT HEALTH The Healthy Housing concept promotes superior quality of indoor air, water and lighting.

2ENERGY EFFICIENCY The Healthy House reduces energy use all year long. It minimizes heat loss in winter and gain in summer. It relies on efficient heating and ventilation systems, reduces the consumption of electricity and other fuels, and encourages the use of renewable energy. It also reduces the energy used in the manufacture of building materials and in house construction.

3RESOURCE EFFICIENCY The Healthy House makes efficient use of resources. It is also affordable and adaptable to changing needs. Efficient use is made of building materials, and construction waste is well managed. Durability of building components is essential. The Healthy House conserves resources, especially water and energy.


The Healthy House uses alternative water and wastewater systems, encourages site planning that reduces land requirements, promotes resource-efficient landscaping and considers broader community planning issues such as transportation.

5AFFORDABILITY For the Healthy House to succeed in the marketplace, it must be good for the owner, the builder and future generations. Many features of the Healthy House make it affordable, and its design makes it easily adaptable to its occupants' changing needs.

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)

1 comment:

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