It’s Easy Being Green

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From the August 2014 edition

Within the world of green remodeling, homeowners have an ever-increasing number of options. To help navigate the maze of eco-friendly choices, we discussed green trends with two local builders: Jeff Brown, owner of J.S. Brown & Co., and Bryce Jacob, vice president of Dave Fox Design Build Remodelers. For client projects and renovations on their own homes, they’ve sorted through the trends.

“You first have to ask, ‘How determined am I to be green?’” Brown says. “Then weigh the costs of the different green options.”  For some, eco-friendly materials like a costly recycled glass countertop may not be worth the expense. 

“Follow the green options that make sense,” he adds. Some of those smart ideas include LED lighting, geothermal heating and super insulation. 

For his own home renovation plans, Brown’s aiming “to get as close as possible to Net Zero,” which means reducing the amount of energy used by his home to roughly equal the amount of renewable energy created there. 

Jacob agrees energy conservation is a top priority among today’s home renovators. When clients need to replace heating systems, Jacob opts for 90-percent-efficiency units and energy-efficient windows. 

In addition to energy conservation, Brown says his company also minimizes the negative environmental impact of remodeling by reusing materials like cabinets and not sending unwanted appliances and materials that still have some life to the landfill. “We try to find a home for everything,” he says.

For green materials, Jacob says clients are drawn to renewable materials like cork and bamboo as well as reclaimed barn siding and industrial fixtures. Dave Fox Remodeling used reclaimed wood from old wine barrels in a client’s wine cellar. For another recent project, the company used barn beams with century-old light fixtures salvaged from a factory in Wisconsin.

Jacob says the reclaimed materials not only make environmental sense but “add personality to homes”—something more and more homeowners are seeking.