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Green renovation: where to start?

A home renovation is an opportune time to "go green" and make sustainable choices for the future. Ecological renovation can also be surprisingly simple as long as you put in the necessary time and energy to do it right. With forward thinking and a good plan, your renovation can benefit your health, the environment, and even your wallet over the long term. Sustainability is definitely worth the extra effort.

Of course, starting on any renovation project is not always easy, as you need to make sure you have the right products, materials, and practices in place. Here is a guide to help you through your next green renovation project.

Defining your needs

Though you are probably excited to get started, the first crucial step in a green renovation is to actually take a step back and give the project some careful thought. Try to plan for your needs over the next few years. For example, maybe you are thinking about having children or about working from home. Taking big life plans into account will help you avoid buying products that are unnecessary or that you will have to replace in a short time.

It is also a good idea to stay away from design trends and go for a more casual, timeless look that you can easily adapt to different styles. Most trends only last for an average of four years, forcing homeowners to renovate again if they want to keep up. When choosing products such as flooring and kitchen cabinets, it's better to opt for durable materials with a classic look. You can then modernize your decor with the right accessories.

If your renovation fulfills your needs for the next decade or more, that means fewer future renovations, fewer materials used, and a lower overall environmental footprint.

Planning and design

One of your main goals during a green renovation should be to limit the amount of waste that it generates. An easy way to do this is to simply apply the "3R" rule to every step of the project: reuse, reduce, and recycle. By integrating this rule into your project from the planning phase all the way to the end, you'll be able to save on money and materials. Keep the following tips in mind as your renovation gets underway:

REUSE

  • Wherever possible, try to reuse any materials or furniture you already have. Furniture can often be painted or simply moved to a new position for a new look. Reusing existing pieces will give your decor a personal touch while helping you save money.
  • If you have some furniture that you definitely don't want to use anymore, then consider donating it. Someone else may find it useful!

REDUCE

  • When shopping for your renovation project, try to look for products that are made from recycled materials. This will help to reduce the use of raw materials and limit the harvesting of new forests.

RECYCLE

  • Anything that cannot be donated should be recycled, if possible. Recycling will help avoid the generation of waste and the resulting harmful effects on the ecosystem.
  • To find out more about disposing of furniture and renovation waste in an environmentally friendly manner, check with your municipal depot or local ecocentre.

Preparing your budget

As with any home renovation project, it is important to sit down and crunch some numbers before jumping in. For a green renovation, pay particular attention to the benefits of shopping sustainably.

Sustainable products and materials are often a bit more expensive on the outset, but may actually save you money on energy and replacement costs over time. For example, an ENERGY STAR certified clothes dryer uses up to 20% less energy than a conventional dryer, which can amount to lifetime savings of as much as $150. You can find many more ENERGY STAR certified appliances among our selection of ECO Products.

You should also check if ECO Product rebates or government funding and tax credits for green renovations are available in your region. This information is often easy to find online, or you can learn more at your local home improvement store.

Choosing the right products and materials

With your budget set, it's time to start shopping. Take the opportunity to compare products and materials and ask yourself the following questions before making your decision:

  • Does this product have eco-friendly specifications and attributes?
  • How much maintenance will it require?
  • Is it high quality and will it have a long life span?

As you consider different products, keep your previously detailed plan in mind. By focusing specifically on your needs, you'll be able to avoid impulse buys and excessive consumption.

Making your selections from among our ECO Products is an easy way to find items that consume less water and are more energy efficient. This can help you save quite a lot of money if you are renovating the bathroom or updating your heating or cooling system.

You can likewise enjoy significant savings by choosing ENERGY STAR certified products when replacing your windows and doors. Inefficient windows and doors can allow as much as 35% of your home's heating energy to escape, forcing your heating system to work harder. Replacing all of your home's old windows with ENERGY STAR certified windows can net you up to 8% in energy savings.

ECO Products are also more likely to contain fewer chemicals that will leach into your indoor air, to be made from sustainably sourced wood or recycled materials, and to have other attributes that contribute to keeping the environment safe.

You can find more tips for improving indoor air quality and reducing your water and energy consumption right here.

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During the renovation

Maintaining good indoor air quality is particularly important during a renovation, when a lot of dust and debris can get kicked up. Protect your family's health by keeping the space well-ventilated and opening windows to allow for proper airflow.

Another important tip for keeping everyone healthy is to always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for using their products in a safe manner. For example, you may be instructed to use gloves or to wear a protective mask. Any such instructions for safe handling should be heeded.

Renovations also produce a lot of waste that contains toxic substances and should not be disposed of in the garbage. If these products end up in the landfill, they can contaminate the soil and water. One way to manage your waste in an eco-friendly way is to bring it to a RONA location that participates in the Take-Back Program. Participating stores will allow you to drop off items like paint, batteries, lamps, and tool accessories for recycling.

Cleaning and maintenance

Once the renovations are complete, it is important that all family members are taught how to properly use any new materials and appliances in the home. This will help ensure that both your expectations for energy efficiency and lifespan and your energy-saving calculations are met.

Make sure that you also follow the manufacturer’s instructions for routine maintenance and cleaning. You certainly don't want your hard work to go to waste due to inappropriate use or application of the wrong cleaning product. Stick to the recommendations and you won't have to worry.

Remember, the longer your renovations remain functional, the more "green" and sustainable they will be in the long run. Sustainability is all about making smart use of what you have.

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