Must-Ask Eco-Questions for Your Contractor

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Planning a home improvement project this spring? Whether you’re simply painting a room or undertaking an entire kitchen remodel, here are 10 questions to ask your contractor to make sure your project is good for the planet, your family’s health and your budget. For more tips on greening your home remodeling projects, visit nonprofit Build It Green’s website.

 

1. Are the building materials eco-friendly?

Viridian Wood's reclaimed lumber flooring is one example of an eco-friendly building material.. Photo: Viridian Wood
Viridian Wood's reclaimed lumber flooring is one example of an eco-friendly building material.. Photo: Viridian Wood
Viridian Wood's reclaimed lumber flooring is one example of an eco-friendly building material.. Photo: Viridian Wood
Look for wall and attic insulation with no added formaldehyde to cut down on exposure to chemicals.Photo: Alliance to Save Energy
Photo: Flickr/Scrap Pile
Photo: Flickr/Charles & Hudson
Glass Recycled manufactures its recycled glass countertops in Texas. Photo: Glass Recycled
Trex's recycled plastic decking often lasts longer than conventional wood decking. Photo: Flickr/TheRealTomRose
7. How do I maintain the new products or materials?
8. How much will the eco-friendly product cost?
VOC-free paint has other benefits in addition to being eco-friendly: It can help family members with allergies breathe easier.
10. How will you dispose of the waste generated during the project?

There is no “one size fits all” test to determine if a product is sustainable, but you can assess a product’s eco-credentials by identifying what it’s made out of and how it will consume resources (water, energy, etc.) during its operation.


Recycled-content building materials make a great eco-friendly choice, like recycled plastic decking, recycled carpet or recycled glass countertops. Or choose rapidly renewable materials like cork or bamboo for counters, floors or other surfaces.


SEE: PHOTOS: Stunning Recycled Glass Countertops


If you’ll be using wood, look for sustainably harvested products, preferably certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.


And if you’ll be buying new appliances like a clothes washer or installing new cooling and heating systems such as a furnace, request models that conserve water and are energy efficient, certified by the EPA’s Energy Star program where applicable.


READ: Green Buyer’s Guide to Washers and Dryers

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