Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
May 31, 2013 - Whether building a new home or looking to increase the energy efficiency of your existing home, there are several things you can do to make your home more sustainable and green. That, according to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs' Bureau of Construction Codes as it celebrates the fourth week of Building Safety Month by offering tips for building or remodeling green.
The practice of green building is taking an integrated approach to building construction, building infrastructure, and building site to provide a more environmentally friendly, healthier, and energy efficient place to live. When starting your plans for your new house, remodel, or other project, there are many advantages to going green: savings on energy and water bills, along with helping out the environment.
Green practices in home building and remodeling have come a long way. Homes built today are 100 percent more energy efficient than homes built in the 1970s. Building green doesn't always mean more expensive. In fact, when you build green you can often reduce the overall expenses by using traditional materials in more efficient and environmentally friendly ways.
When building a new home:
For new builds or existing homes:
Green plumbing and heating upgrades lower operating costs and that means higher efficiency, less energy and lower utility bills. Consider installing high efficiency toilets, bathroom sink faucets and accessories such as faucet aerators that can reduce the standard flow by more than 30 percent without sacrificing performance; green shower heads can cut water usage by two thirds. The average home, retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, can save 30,000 gallons per year. Replace that old water heater with a new energy efficient unit.
A new high efficiency heating and cooling system will help you save on your energy bills. If you are not ready to replace, be sure to tune up your existing heating and air conditioning (AC) units, as neglect is the number one cause of furnace or AC breakdown and wasted energy. Clean or replace the furnace filter often during the heating season to reduce energy use. Install a programmable thermostat. For every degree you adjust your thermostat you could save up to three percent on your heating or cooling bill. Adjusting your thermostat when you're away from home will also save energy.
If you are planning to remodel or if your home has damaged drywall and insulation that is falling apart consider having your home inspected for asbestos by a trained and accredited asbestos professional who knows what to look for and will take samples for analysis. Do not try taking samples yourself. There may be increased health risks if fibers are released and incorrect sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Generally, you can't tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos and leave it alone. If building materials in your home aren't damaged and won't be disturbed by a remodel, you do not need to have your home tested for asbestos.
LARA's Bureau of Construction Codes works to ensure that the built environment and the systems within are sound, safe, and sanitary; the public's health, safety, and welfare is protected; and that, through a coordinated program of code compliance, investigation and training, there is consistent application of standards. For more information, go to the Bureau of Construction Codes website at www.michigan.gov/bcc.
For more information about LARA, please visit www.michigan.gov/lara
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