Consumer Reports has created a guide to a greener kitchen. For example, you can find appliances like refrigerators, ranges and dishwashers that use less energy. Energy-efficient lighting is also a hot topic, as CFLs and LEDs edge out the old energy-hogging incandescents.

Many paints on the market now have lower or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which have been linked to respiratory problems. Some materials used for countertops, flooring and cabinets can also contain unhealthy chemicals that homeowners may want to avoid. Options include materials with recycled content or that comes from nearby, which limits the amount of resources consumed.



Going green is all about going with nature as far as possible, not fighting it and trying to control forces that are a whole lot bigger than you are. Think about it this way – who’s going to be the ultimate winner? History shows that you can score over the universe in the short term. But if you really get into ecologically friendly ways of living you’ll know you have to take a wider, longer and more integrated view.

Once we got out of caves, we were concerned about basic protection from the world outside. That’s a basic roof on the basic walls, to keep out the rain, cold and summer heat, as well as nature’s predators. In a way, nothing’s changed. Some human needs are timeless. But also everything’s changed. We have choices like never before.

If you’re really dedicated to green remodeling you can’t go wrong by looking at the past. Not just what our ancestors did right. We can now take that to the next level. We can also use technology to solve problems that were way beyond our forebear’s capacity. We can take traditional building methods, building on the bonuses and use modern knowledge, science and technology to go one better.

Here’s a simple example. Windows were once small, because glass was expensive and windows lose heat in a big way. If you’re planning an extension, you can design your windows to make maximum use of available light. You can double-glaze or coat them to let the light in without the UV rays coming and the interior warmth escaping.

You can make use of skylights, so you don’t have to turn on the electric light. You can pitch your roof at the right angle to admit light and to mount solar panels that will harvest the free sunlight that can power your home – naturally, economically and without excessive environmental impact.

Good architectural design today incorporates green ideas wherever that can be done. This doesn’t just apply to new builds. Whatever changes you are making to your home, you can build in green ideas, from the past and from the forward-thinking green designers and architects of today.

Green remodeling is an attitude. Lateral thinking plus sensitivity to place, space and the living world all come together. If you are extending or altering your home, check out the hundreds of solutions that work with the environment instead of trying to keep the world out.

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