Green building trends have grown stronger in the last decade, moving from the fringes of the construction industry to the very center. This year brings some fresh building trends from Mother Nature, as well as a resurgence in vital areas of our homes, helping to create a more sustainable environment for future generations. How can you include Mother Nature in your home improvement projects? Find out what's hot for 2013.
Water Conservation Making More Waves
Although it is a global issue, Americans have become more conscious of water conservation than ever before. Experts agree that the fresh water supply remains in crisis and homeowners need to do everything possible to conserve water.
Try to be conscious of your water usage and pinpoint areas that may need improvement. Do you fill the dishwasher and washing machine before running? Does the family take reasonably long showers and avoid wasting water where possible? Do you have a rain barrel for watering potted plants inside and out? These simple changes do not require renovations, but help to conserve water for our future.
Several different fixtures and features add an element of water conservation to your home renovation:
- Low Flow Toilets - conserve water when you flush by installing one of the latest models from quality manufacturers like Kohler. Consider purchasing a comfort height model for future value and pay attention to whether or not the model meets EPA WaterSense standards.
- Efficient Showerheads - these products save water and energy, resulting in lower utility bills and a healthier planet. Big name brands like American Standard have several models available.
- Faucets and Taps - designed much like an efficient showerhead, eco friendly faucets and tap deliver the desired coverage without wasting water. Manufacturers offer a vast selection of stylish models, in contemporary and traditional designs.
- Sprinklers and Irrigation Systems - outdoor water fixtures can also be upgraded to help conserve and protect the fresh water supply. Browse through the selection of models available from Cyber Rain and other quality manufacturers.
Back to Nature in the Backyard
Natural, untreated building materials are enjoying more attention in the world of backyard design. Cedar and rough barn pine provide the ideal flexibility and attractive appearance required for contemporary outdoor living spaces. With or without stain, these wood species create a rustic atmosphere and balance off modern design perfectly.
Remember that in-ground applications require treated wood for structural support and integrity. This includes deck posts and framing, fence posts and any retaining walls. Consult your local building code to find out the type of wood required for all aspects of your hardscaping. Walls can be made from natural stone as well, complementing the gray patina of aged cedar and adding to a sense of natural wonder in your yard.
Flagstone continues to be a popular choice for patios, and more people are opting for genuine flagstone, as opposed to stamped concrete pavers made to mimic this natural beauty. When installed properly and with an adequate base, flagstone and natural stone patios last for generations with very little upkeep and maintenance. A quick sweep now and then is all that's required to spruce up an area finished in genuine stone pavers.
Be sure to consult an expert when installing decks, patios and fences. Some projects work for DIY enthusiasts, while others require the skills of an experienced professional in order to achieve the right look and ensure longevity.
Insulation Important on Multiple Counts
Adding insulation to your home improves energy efficiency and reduces your heating and cooling bills. But the right type of insulation may also enhance air quality inside your home by eliminating off-gasses and potential allergens.
New types of spray foam insulation, like those from Icynene, work well to protect and seal your home. Available in both closed cell and open cell types, these products far surpass traditional fiberglass insulation in terms of coverage, application, longevity and durability.
Many brands of spray foam insulation are made without harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and HFCs. Using this product should eliminate unhealthy emissions commonly experienced with fiberglass batting. Closed cell spray foam also acts to repel moisture, which should reduce the risk of harmful mold and mildew growth in your living space.
You will need to hire a professional installer, as these products require a skilled hand for proper coverage. Consider adding eco friendly spray foam insulation to your attic or including it in your basement renovation. Replacing older, potentially harmful types of insulation with modern alternatives makes sense in terms of energy efficiency and overall air
Natural Flooring Choices Expand
Once the reigning choice for flooring in our homes, carpet is on the decline. Homeowners want to avoid the off-gasses that come along with this traditional flooring choice, and opt instead for natural products like solid hardwood, cork and bamboo.
Look for products manufactured with environmentally friendly methods, as well as those from sustainable forests. The Forest Stewardship Council provides an excellent certification program covering hardwood flooring products. It offers consumers assurance regarding the harvest of raw materials and manufacturing, covering three major aspects:
- environmental appropriateness
- social benefits
- economical viability
Purchasing a brand with FSC certification provides you with peace of mind. Talk to your flooring retailer about the options available.
Some retailers offer carpets made from natural fibers. These products significantly reduce or eliminate the VOCs (or volatile organic compounds) normally present in conventional carpets. You'll need to budget for this style and hire an experienced installer, but the long-term payoff for your home and family is well worth any additional investment.
Building trends evolve every season, but the passion for our planet continues to dominate the home improvement marketplace. Look for ways to incorporate Mother Nature in your next kitchen or bathroom renovation, including water conservation fixtures and natural flooring. Green building materials are making a comeback outside and enhance your landscaping with natural beauty and durability. Insulation helps to improve efficiency and certain types create better air quality today and well into the future. Take a look to see how you can make your living space better for you and the earth.Posted by: diana