SUSTAINABLE LIVING AT HOME
The theme for this year’s Earth Day on April 22 is “Invest In Our Planet.” Spring is also the Earth’s time for renewal. So this month, we’re focusing on ways to make our homes and lives more Earth-friendly. From more sustainable daily practices to a major home remodel, there are many ways to reduce our carbon footprint.
FROM EASY FIXES TO BIG PROJECTS
Perhaps you’re thinking about selling your home and want to enhance its appeal for today’s eco-conscious buyer. Or maybe you simply want to lower energy consumption. Here are some ideas to reduce your carbon footprint and make your home more sustainable.
Reclaim Materials: Whether it’s building an addition or dressing up what’s already there, recycled materials are an environmentally sound choice. Promising more depth, character and patina than new lumber, for example, reclaimed wood is a great look to remodel your fireplace or add sliding barn doors. For countertops, consider sustainable materials like recycled glass or engineered stone.
Reuse, Repurpose… Or Donate: If you’re removing walls or going down to the studs, think about what can be reused rather than thrown in the dumpster! That dated dining room chandelier? It might add the perfect vintage charm to your teen’s bedroom. And old kitchen cabinets can be used to add storage in a mud room or laundry. Before you demolish, take a walk around and see what can be reused. If it has to go, think about donating it to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore!
Be Energy Efficient: Replacing your incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescents or LED bulbs is an easy step that will reduce energy use every day and save money in the long-term. If it’s time for new appliances, choose those with a high Energy Star rating. Other eco-friendly steps to consider: Installing a tankless water heater and upgrading your windows, insulation and HVAC system.
Re-Face Instead of Replace: Whether it’s the kitchen or the bathroom, cabinets are a major cost component of any remodeling job. Rather than replacing them completely, especially if they’re in good condition, consider painting or refacing them. New doors and drawers can give tired-looking cabinets a whole new look – and keep them out of our landfills!
Low and Zero-VOC Paints: Nearly all the major paint brands offer products that have reduced amounts of harmful, volatile organic compounds (VOC). Some companies like ECOS and Clare offer water-based zero-VOC products. From Sherwin-Williams, their Harmony line is a zero-VOC formula that is Greenguard Gold Certified.
ONE PERSON’S TRASH…
As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Buying second-hand not only diverts items from landfills, it also decreases demand for new resources. And considering supply-chain delivery delays, buying vintage is not just a more Earth-friendly way to furnish your home: It also promises immediate gratification! Here are four of our favorite second-hand shops for the home.
District | 4835 N Damen Ave, Chicago
What started in 2010 as a garage-based refinishing business for run-down pieces of furniture has since grown into one of the city’s go-to destinations for mid-century design. districtchicago.com
State Street Salvage | 1820 W Grand Ave, Chicago
A one-of-a-kind collection of vintage and antique furnishings is enhanced by owner Kevin Hanley’s custom-made pieces, many fabricated from resourced materials including metal, wood and stone. statestreetsalvage.com
Modern Vibe | 611 Dempster St, Evanston
With a longtime passion for Mid-Century and Danish Modern design, owner Bill Ramsey offers a meticulously curated collection of home furnishings – all beautifully staged at his bright and airy store. modernvibe.net
Mercantile M | 5409 N Clark St, Chicago
With new inventory arriving regularly, you never know what you’ll find at this Andersonville landmark. Dishes, barware and wall art are always on display with a wide variety of furnishings. instagram.com/mercantile_m
WHAT’S NEW IN NEW CONSTRUCTION
Beyond the clear eco-advantages of using renewable and sustainable materials like bamboo, cork, reclaimed timber and recycled steel, the construction industry is also innovating with new building techniques. Among the most exciting projects is a collaboration between Oakland-based Mighty Buildings and Palari, a California real estate developer. Together, they’re building 15 homes outside of Palm Springs using 3D printing technology and prefabricated steel panels that significantly reduce material waste, labor hours and costs.
Closer to home, Chicago consistently ranks high among the most sustainable cities in the USA, including being named the Greenest City in the 2019 Green Building Adoption Index. So if you’re looking to custom build your next home or contemplating a major remodel, consider some of the local architecture firms that have earned accolades for their sustainable designs and building practices as well as the number of LEED-certified projects they have completed. These firms include Elements Architectural Group, Moss Architecture & Design and DeSalvo Florian Architects.