Archive | Apr, 2007

Green Building the Next Step for Remodeling Industry

Apr 9th, 2007No Comments

Consumers want their remodeling projects green and remodelers are answering the call, according to recent research by NAHB Remodelers released at the National Green Building Conference in St. Louis last month.

“The only way to bring green into 120 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% reporting declining demand. The majority of remodelers already incorporated energy efficiency into their work. Nearly all (85%) have said they used low-energy windows, 68% used insulated exterior doors, 65% upgraded insulation and 56% installed high-efficiency HVAC systems.

The survey also showed that many remodelers use environmentally friendly products. For example, more than 75% of those surveyed said they were contributing to minimizing harvesting from old-growth forests by using alternatives to dimensional lumber, like engineered wood. Additionally, 65% said they 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, Michael Strong, CGR, CAPS, GMB, a member of the NAHB Green Building Subcommittee, 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. Home owners need to look at the whole room and eventually use a whole-house approach to maximize efficiency.”

NAHB Remodelers offer a “Top Eight” list for home owners:

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.

In another presentation at the conference, Carl Seville, of Seville Consulting, noted that incorporating green had given a boost to his business. “There are still few green remodelers out there,” he said, which has provided an opportunity to differentiate himself from the competition.

To get started, he suggested “taking small steps, picking a few things and doing them better. Don’t get overwhelmed; don’t try to do everything at once and do the best you can.”

Home performance and how the house as a system controls heat, air and moisture is the “critical piece” of green remodeling, Seville said, and he recommended taking a four- to five-day HERS rating training class.

“Green building is the next step in the remodeling industry,” he said, and the first challenge is “creating the demand. Nobody asks for it,” he said, but remodelers can create the demand by emphasizing such advantages as comfort, healthier air and lower energy bills.

“Once you learn about this stuff, you look back and you’re ashamed with what you used to do,” Seville said.

For more information about remodeling, visit www.nahb.org/remodel.

For more information on NAHB resources on remodeling, e-mail Jim Lapides at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8451.

The information was reprinted with permission from National Association of Home Builders and its online weekly publication, Nation’s Building News. Article also available here

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