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Green Building & Remodeling For Dummies

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When it comes to addressing most of the challenges we face as a society, it is often said that change begins at home. This is an exciting prospect—that we can make a difference around the world by changing the way we live our daily lives—and nowhere is it truer than in our efforts to improve the health of our planet, our communities, and our families. A greener home is the ideal place to start as we work toward a greener world.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings’ energy use accounts for 39 percent of the United States’ carbon emissions, and the typical American family pays upward of $1,500 a year in energy costs. Buildings’ designs often fail to make the most efficient use of water, an increasingly scarce and valuable resource. The materials used to build them are often harvested and transported in ways that are detrimental to the environment, and those same materials can release toxic chemicals that damage the health of building occupants. Americans spend roughly 90 percent of their day indoors, breathing air that is affected by the chemicals and products that fill our buildings.

This all may sound like bad news at first blush. In reality, the opportunity to make real change by building and renovating greener homes is great news. Families can save money, live in greater comfort and health, enjoy the durability of longer-lasting homes, and help in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation all at once. A truly green home makes efficient use of energy and water, is built with responsibly harvested and produced materials, has a healthy indoor environment, minimizes its impact on the land it sits on, and is inhabited by people who know how to live as green as possible. All kinds of homes can be green, from single-family detached homes to high-density apartments, and from luxury condominiums and townhouses to affordable housing projects. Green homes can be built green, or they can be renovated to be green. But green building and renovation are more than just the sum of a handful of green features. A green home is the result of a holistic, integrated plan where green features, systems, designs, and products complement each other and work as a sustainable whole.
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