Friday, March 23, 2012

My Big Fat Green(ish) Remodel

From the bean of Green Bean.

Let's face it, no remodel is green.  Not really.  Most of it involves something discarded, something newly produced and so on.  But remodeling can be much greener than it used to be.  Here is the tale of how we remodeled a bathroom, added a closet and tried to stay true to our conscience - and our bank account.

ADVOCATE - My first step was to go all "enviro" on everyone and let them know that wanted to go as green as possible.  My contractor then was able to make suitable recommendations and steer me in the right direction with vendors.

The tile store pointed out their greener options (all marked with a green tag) after my contractor called them and told them that I was aiming to go recycled as much as possible.  We ended up with ceramic tile for the floor and shower wall that was 40% recycled content, accent tile that was 70% post consumer recycled glass, and a granite slab that was a remnant.

Although I had visions of a reclaimed wood vanity, it was harder to find that I had hoped so we ended up with one that has FSC-certified wood made by a company engaged in an Environmental Stewardship program.  Ho hum.  The new bathroom and closet doors were also relatively eco-friendly with the MDF version containing 82% recycled content and being produced through a sustainable manufacturing process. 

For the other items, if I could not find an environmentally aware product, I tried to go for this:

(Though I did allow myself the sink with no green strings attached).

SAVE WHAT YOU CAN - We threw out as little as possible.  My contractor reused as much of the wood as possible, recycled and composted (we have city-picked up compost) anything that could be treated as such.  He even went so far as to cut down old doors and turn them in to a place that turns them in to another product.  We passed the old bathroom mirror on to a friend who has it hanging in her bedroom, reused the old bathroom hooks in a closet, and freecycled the old towel bars and towel ring.

INCREASE YOUR EFFICIENCY WHEN POSSIBLE - With the new bathroom - and also my husband's office which had its ceilings scraped - we added a solar tube sunlight.  We did this in our previous house and it brightened everything without flipping a switch.  Same result here.  No lights needed during most day time hours.

Speaking of lights, though, we discovered that we could get new LED fixtures which slipped into the old ones.  Cheaper than CFLs and more efficient than both CFLs and incandescent.  We also slapped a ceiling fan on both adjoining rooms to the bath and, for good measure, had blow in insulation done on the exterior walls of those two bedrooms.  In just one month, we've already seen a major difference and our new PG&E bill arrived today with a notice that we used 20% less than last year.

We ended up with a space that is much more usable and enjoyable.  Not a green remodel but green(ish) and sometimes "ish" is enough.


Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

There are two kinds of remodels - the everything done at once kind, which really puts time and source pressure on material selections, and the gradual remodel, which allows you to over time find the best (and least expensive) materials for your home. It's nearly impossible to go completely green with the first method but you've done well with the options given to you!

Clint Baker said...

We just got done remodeling our bedroom! It was a task!

I love your sink, how did you get it mounted?

Eco Yogini said...

i love it! it's so beautiful :)

I also agree with you- 100% green is impossible, but you've done the best you can- which is what we all can try to do! I really like your suggestions too!

becki said...

It's so beautiful. We just bought a house, so I know that there is very little you can find that's truly green- especially without having a gigantic budget! It looks better, and you should be proud of all of your green efforts!

Green Bean said...

@Tanya - Thank you. You are right. A gradual remodel lets you slow down and get what you are really aiming for. I even felt rushed with just this. I cannot imagine how I could have pulled off even this green with a big remodel.

@Clint - Bet you are glad that is over! I'm sure happy to have the workmen gone. As far as the sink, it is a Kohler and I figured that would mean it was easy. I don't know how my contractor did it but it was the only thing he ever complained about and it took him a couple days to figure it out.

@Eco Yogini and Becky - Thank you!

Jenn the Greenmom said...

A friend of mine got this GORGEOUS set of kitchen cabinets by cruising the "totally not green" tear-down across the street from her. They were going to trash everything, and she and her husband just asked, and they got some amazing stuff. Again, not green at all, really, but certainly an improvement.

I totally want to do some remodeling of our house, because our place is so falling apart and has old cheap carpet and stuff...but yeah, it breaks my heart that whatever we do will be only marginally "green."


Blog Widget by LinkWithin