For many, having a finished basement is the ultimate home addition. The options for basement renovations are purely limitless; you can install a secondary kitchen, add a full sized bath, and incorporate personal touches to make the room unique from the rest of your home.
Besides adding comfort and style, a finished basement will also add value to your home. If keeping it “green” is ideal, here are a few tips to help you get started with your eco friendly basement remodeling project…
Select Natural, Recycled, or Sustainable Materials
Selecting the right building materials is the key to keeping your basement renovation eco-friendly. Materials such as reclaimed wood can be used in flooring, to make shelves, or as accent pieces. Engineered wood can be used for building structural members such as joists and trusses. Composite materials can be used throughout the build since they are comprised of recycled wood and plastics.
Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs can release harmful chemicals into the air; unfortunately, many types of flooring products contain a high level of these compounds. The best and most durable flooring for your basement renovation is either linoleum or natural fiber carpeting.
Linoleum is made from recycled cork or is harvested from cork trees; natural fiber carpeting is made from recycled grasses and reeds. Other choices for green flooring include reclaimed wood, bamboo, and ceramic tile which can be installed using low or no VOC adhesives.
Planning for Healthy Siting
Poor drainage and cracks in your foundation or basement floor can cause moisture build. This can result in the generation of mold and mildew, which can make the air in your basement harmful to breathe.
Before beginning your renovation project, you must make sure that your basement is waterproof and your home’s foundation is sound. Have an expert with a foundation repair and waterproofing company fully evaluate your basement to ensure it is ready before you begin laying flooring or installing major appliances. The blog at Helitech Waterproofing & Foundation Repair has a post on Preventative Foundation Maintenance in which they recommend “always keep[ing] a positive grade away from your home’s structure to allow for sufficient water run-off.”
Most paints and stains also contain an exorbitant amount of VOCs. However, there are paints and stains that are now made which contain “low VOCs” or “zero VOCs”. When purchasing low VOC paint, do your research. Currently, there is no industry standard for determining how low is low for VOCs. Always check the label before purchasing low or no VOC paint or stain.
Organic paint and stain is made of completely natural materials and can be found in a wide array of color types. Organic paint is your safest bet for keeping it green since it contains absolutely no VOCs.
Installing Energy Efficient Appliances
When installing a basement kitchen, bathroom, or bar, make sure that each appliance is Energy Star rated. Energy guide ratings will be labeled on appliances and these ratings will help you determine how much energy and water the appliance will consume. Cross reference these guide ratings with those on the Energy Star site to help you make the most eco-friendly choice.
Since circulation is low, installing vapor barriers in your basement can help to promote better air quality. In addition, these barriers can also act as insulation, which will help you keep heating and cooling costs down.
Choosing Light Fixtures
The inability to use natural lighting in your basement means you will need to install a few light fixtures throughout the area. By using low voltage lighting systems, you will significantly reduce energy consumption while still keeping your basement well lit. By adding eco-friendly light bulbs such as halogen or fluorescent, you can reduce energy consumption even further.
Keeping it green when performing renovations can help you keep energy costs down and also provide you with piece of mind that you used natural sustainable materials for the build. Remember to always research materials and products before purchase to ensure you are making the most eco-friendly choices, no matter your home project.
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