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Your Environmentally Friendly Home Improvement Project

Environmentally conscious construction (also dubbed "Green Construction") is the buzzword in home building and remodeling. An active awareness of taking care of our environment is forefront in many homeowners' minds -- and for many folks, saving some money down the road.

Whether it's a new-home construction or a remodeling project, you can help protect the earth. Here's how to take environmental issues into account when undertaking your next job.

'Green Building'

Some common environmentally conscious concepts include:

  • Using solar power for energy production
  • Using non-toxic materials in construction
  • Renewable "natural" flooring
  • Implementing recycled materials in your building project
  • Landscaping with native and drought-resistant plants
  • Installing energy efficient appliances and lighting
  • Implementing water-saving irrigation systems

Most of these can be utilized in both a new construction project or on a home remodel. They not only save our precious natural resources; over time they can offer significant energy cost savings as well.

Green Contractors

It simply entails following some simple guidelines.

Check out the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) website  It lists building professionals accredited by the USGBC for having "demonstrated a thorough understanding of green building practices and principles and familiarity with LEED requirements, resources and processes." 

Not all contractors who say they're green are green. You will want to ask:

  • What kinds of benefits can they provide for you and your home? Ask them to be specific about how the project will affect both you and the environment, and the cost savings breakdown.

  • If they have an area of expertise such as solar energy, indoor air quality, or conservation techniques.

  • If they have any special training or education in green design or construction.

You should also take the usual precautions when hiring any contractor to build or remodel your home. Interview several different would-be contractors, and check all references. Make sure they have the proper insurance, and that they don't have any unresolved complaints lodged against them.

And always make sure you have everything in writing, including payment arrangements, specifics of the job, and a warranty.

Kathy Wilson is a home and garden writer, author and consultant and is the home decorating expert for LifetimeTV.com. Visit her for more home and garden ideas at http://www.TheBudgetDecorator.com and

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