How can a home be renovated to be greener?
Homeowners can significantly reduce the energy consumption of a building by reducing heat loss and gain through the building’s envelope—the exterior walls, floor, and ceiling of the home—a using insulation, air sealing and efficient windows and doors.
With a better sealed and insulated envelope, these homes require a much smaller heating and cooling system and may operate this equipment for fewer hours each day.
It is therefore recommend that homeowners complete all of the ‘envelope’ retrofits and upgrades they intend to do before commencing any heating or cooling system upgrades or changes as the improvements made to the tightness and efficiency of the building envelope will reduce the required capacity of the heating/cooling system.
Installing a water-saver flush kit in a toilet saves thousands of litres of water per year. Replacing large-volume toilets with units that use only six litres per flush reduces water usage by 70% or more.
The engineering of low flush and dual flush toilets has come a long way in the past several years. Well-designed low flush toilets can retail for as little as $100. Dual flush toilets that give the user the option of a three- or six-litre flush are also available.
The average showerhead has a flow rate of 5 gal/min. A low flow showerhead should have a flow rate of 1.6 gal/min., giving total water saving due to bathing of 30%. Assuming the supply temperature of the water is 130 degrees F, hot water makes up 65% of the supply water to the shower, which equals a 20% saving in hot water, and the energy to heat this water.
As energy efficiency of homes increases, issues such as indoor air quality problems as mentioned above may arise. There are many steps to take while undergoing renovations and retrofits to improve the healthfulness of homes, such as these offered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Keeping the Heat In - This book tells you how to go about retrofitting your home. It deals with houses of all kinds in all parts of Canada, and not apartment or commercial buildings.
Retrofitting a house is simply upgrading it to keep the heat in. This means adding insulation, caulking and weatherstripping, improving or replacing windows and doors, and improving the heating system. Retrofitting also means including energy-efficiency measures in all renovation and repair activities.
This book is designed to serve the experienced do-it-yourselfer and the novice willing to give it a try. It’s also a useful consumer guide for homeowners who intend to hire contractors to undertake retrofit work. It’s important to understand how a house works before starting any retrofit work. This will ensure the job meets expectations without causing new problems.
BUILDSMART is the Lower Mainland's resource for sustainable design and construction information. Developed by Metro Vancouver, this innovative program encourages the use of green building strategies and technologies, supports green building efforts by offering tools and technical resources, and educates the building industry on sustainable design and building practices.
Based on the five stages of a building's life cycle, BUILDSMART presents relevant green building information in the areas of:
CMHC promotes the concept of Healthy Housing™ and offers case studies and related checklists. CMHC also offers case studies that describe options for saving energy in houses of specific styles and ages.
The Pharos Project seeks to define a consumer-driven vision of truly green building materials and how they should be evaluated in harmony with principles of environmental health and justice. The principles of the Pharos Project are transparency, comprehensiveness, independence, accuracy and fairness applied to analyzing the impact building materials have on human health, the environment and communities—during production, use and at the end of their useful life.
BC Hydro also offers tools for homeowners as part of its Power Smart program, including an analysis tool, an appliance and lighting calculator, and in-depth product information (Note: To access some tools, you must have an account with BC Hydro).
Light House Sustainable Building Centre - offers how-to guides, directories of green products, useful green building links and services. Services range from an initial assessment of your home to a comprehensive prescription for even the most ambitious renovation.
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