The Most Important Green Retro-Fitting You Can Do Now

The Most Important Green Retro-Fitting You Can Do Now

Retrofitting your home to be more environmentally-conscious can be an expensive task. However, there are lots of steps you can take to make your home more green, and each of them individually will benefit the environment. Moving forward with your retrofit at whatever speed you can afford is the best choice when the other option is to do nothing at all. You may be able to do more than you think, as well.

Being green is about being good to the environment. This means reducing pollution by whatever means possible. In many cases, saving money dovetails nicely with saving the planet, because reducing the amount of trash you produce and fossil fuels you use decreases your expenses. This may not be an immediate effect, however. Sometimes, retrofits only show a savings over time. Buying expensive granite counter tops costs a lot in the short term, but they are extremely durable and probably won’t need to be replaced in your lifetime.

Many modern homes are being built in new ways in order to take advantage of green options. These homes have features that may not be possible to incorporate into your existing home. However, it is still greener to retrofit your home than to buy a new eco-friendly one, even assuming that you could afford to do so. Why? Because being green is largely about conservation, and making your old home greener saves significant energy and resources over building a whole new one.

One of the most often remodeled rooms in a home is the kitchen. It takes a lot of wear and tear, and some people spend a lot of time in this room. Refurbishing the kitchen just makes sense after a long enough period of time. Luckily, there are lots of green ways to make your kitchen beautiful and environmentally friendly.

An option that saves money and reduces the amount of waste that your retrofit creates is to only do cabinet refacing, not replace the entire set of cabinets. This is a considerably cheaper project, requires less energy, materials and labor, and comes out looking just as good as new. Whether you choose refacing or entirely new cabinets make sure to use FSC-certified wood, which is harvested in a sustainable manner.

The kitchen can also contain high volatile organic compounds, or VOC’s. These are chemicals that are toxic to humans that evaporate from the liquids and some solids that are found in many products in your home.  Kitchen cabinets can contain formaldehyde, as well as toxic emitting paints and stains.  I highly recommend using natural wood, and if you want to cover them it’s best to use low or zero VOC paint.  There are also paints made from natural products. These will greatly increase the air quality in your kitchen.
Another part of the kitchen that can attract a lot of attention is the counter tops. There are a number of materials that are used to make counters, which have a variety of pros and cons. Granite counter tops are popular, but not a particularly ecologically-friendly choice in some cases. Granite comes from mining, which is often under-regulated in other countries, and usually has to be shipped internationally. However, some states in the US have granite mines, and locally-, responsibly-sourced granite can be purchased from them as an eco-friendly option.

Alternatives for people from states where granite quarrying is not done include bamboo, Paper Stone, and recycled glass. The latter two are made from recycled materials, including paper, glass and stone dust.  Recycled glass counter tops with enough reclaimed granite stone dust in them can look almost like the real thing, but be much more sustainable.

Author Bio: Scott is a freelance writer on a variety of topics, home improvement.  When he is not writing he is hiking in the mountains of upstate New York.


  1. one
    Comment by MadisonLee@ nyc painters: Sep 10, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    Great Eco-friendly steps for a safer and a healthier environment..

  2. two
    Comment by Leo@CPA Salary: Sep 13, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    I’ve actually had my kitchen cabinets refaced before and give it two thumbs up. I did it mostly because it was cheaper, and it looks just as good as new cabinets. The fact that it is also “green” is an added bonus.

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