Consumers want their remodeling projects green and remodelers already answer the call, according to recent research by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers. NAHB Remodelers discussed the state of green remodeling at a March 26 press conference during the National Green Building Conference in St. Louis, Mo.
“The only way to bring green into120 million existing households is through remodeling,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Mike Nagel, CGR, CAPS, a remodeler from Chicago. “Americans spent over $230 billion last year in home remodeling, with energy efficient and sustainable products representing an increasing share of the market.”
More than one quarter of remodelers surveyed by NAHB saw growing demand for green remodeling late last year, compared to just 6 percent reporting less demand. The majority of remodelers already incorporate energy efficiency into their work. Nearly all (85 percent) used low-energy windows, 68 percent used insulated exterior doors, 65 percent upgraded insulation, and 56 percent installed high efficiency HVAC systems.
The survey also showed that many remodelers also use environmentally friendly products. For example, more than 75 percent of those surveyed minimize the harvesting of old-growth forests by using alternatives to dimensional lumber, like engineered wood. Additionally, 65 percent already incorporate recycled or recyclable materials into their projects.
For the first time, the National Green Building Conference held remodeling educational courses for contractors. One of those instructors and NAHB Green Building Subcommittee member Michael Strong, CGR, CAPS, GMB, discussed the emerging trends within the industry.
“Energy efficiency continues to lead the way, but for items beyond appliances, the installation matters as much as the product,” Strong said. “Simply putting in that low-E window doesn’t solve the problem. Homeowners need to look at the whole room and eventually use a whole-house approach to maximize efficiency.”
NAHB Remodelers offer a “Top 8” list for homeowners:
Install maximum insulation in the area to be remodeled.
Install high-efficiency windows instead of those that just meet the energy code.
Seal all exterior penetrations in the area being remodeled.
Purchase only Energy Star ®-rated appliances.
Install only low-flow water fixtures.
Upgrade to an Energy Star ®-rated water heater, or better yet a tankless water heater.
Purchase the highest efficiency HVAC system you can afford.