It's almost impossible these days to open the daily newspaper and not see an article on the rapid growth of green building, the technique of using sustainable design to build homes with renewable materials used prudently in an effort to conserve energy and environmental resources. Indeed, according to a recent survey of home builders by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and McGraw Hill Construction, one out of every 10 homes built will be "green" by the year 2010. And 85 percent of green homeowners surveyed say they are happier with their new green home than they were with their previous, more traditionally built home, in part because of the lower operating and maintenance costs that come with energy- and resource-efficient homes.
But what about the 120 million existing homes in the United States? For these homeowners, remodeling is the only way to incorporate green into their homes. For homeowners who want to take advantage of the benefits that green offers, NAHB Remodelers, the leading professional organization for the remodeling industry, offers a list of the "Top 7" projects that bring about the most bang for the buck.
While these recommended projects will offer equal benefit to owners of condominiums and single-family homes, implementing them can be a much more charged issue for the condo owner. Key to a successful renovation project is to determine who owns and is therefore in charge of the given bit of condo under consideration. An individual owner might be able to replace windows, if he or she selected from an architecturally approved style of window, but the association would step in to handle a community-wide effort if the windows were common property. A definition of who owns what can be found a condominium's documents, which should be consulted before embarking on a renovation project.
1. Install maximum insulation in the area to be remodeled.
Outfitting an existing home with the proper insulation is one of the easiest ways to increase efficiency. Particularly in older homes, an enormous amount of potential to increase efficiency is available in the attic. Insulation is rated by its ability to resist heat flow, commonly known as its "R-value." The higher the R-value of a material, the better its ability to resist heat flow.