By Tina Jepson
With Inspiration from Jonathan Ecklund, owner of NYC’s ecostruct
I bet the first idea that comes to your mind when you think about sustainability within your own home is something “big” like solar panels or a rooftop wind turbine. To tell you the truth, I’m in the same boat. It’s easy to assume that sustainability and eco-friendly practices automatically means a large investment.
But that’s not always the case. As a matter of fact, it takes virtually little to no effort to incorporate dozens of different sustainable living practices into your home. Thanks to Jonathan Eklund and his team at New York City’s ecostruct, sustainability is increasingly easy to attain.
We love how Jonathan and ecostruct’s consultation and contracting services incorporate sustainable practices from the ground up — from the design of a home to landscaping and even custom features like shelving. So whether you’re thinking of constructing an eco-home or just want to add a few features to do your part to lower your carbon footprint, you have options!
Check out this list of four ways to incorporate sustainability into your own home, with inspiration from Jonathan at ecostruct.
1. Get an Energy Analysis
Before you dive into an environmentally-friendly build, remodel, or even a refresh, it’s best to start by talking those who know best practices and can develop a plan of action specific to your property.
Begin by asking for an energy audit. This service will assess the efficiency of your current home, including your heating and cooling systems. You’ll also learn what to do to increase your home’s energy efficiency and map out a plan to maximize the number of rebates and credits you receive during any future construction efforts.
Photo by dreamstime
When you work with an energy audit firm, make sure they are certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
2. Choose the Right Materials and Appliances
Design and efficiency aren’t the only factors when it comes to sustainability. The materials you choose to build and shape your home projects are also extremely important.
Photo by ecostruct
Talk with your consultant about which materials mix function and sustainability. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, consider the following building materials and features to shape your eco-home:
- Flooring: Bamboo, cork, linoleum, recycled carpet
- Building: Recycled gypsum, reclaimed wood, blown insulation, cotton insulation, sustainable roofing (Energy Star rated)
- Other: Tankless water heaters, Energy Star-rated appliances, solar panels, solar hot water heaters
3. Get an HVAC Checkup
Jonathan believes that HVAC checkups are an essential part of any sustainable building project. Why? Because your heating and cooling systems can easily drain your home’s energy if they’re inefficient or old.
Did you know the average HVAC system uses 30% (or more!) of your home’s overall energy costs, meaning you could be spending an arm and a leg and still not be operating efficiently.
To be on the safe side, schedule a regular maintenance and checkup appointment at the beginning of summer and winter to ensure it’s operating at its full potential. Don’t forget to change your air filters every 6-8 weeks!
Photo by shutterstock
4. Go ‘Passive’
If you haven’t been keeping up with environmentally-friendly building practices you may be surprised to learn that passive building is becoming an increasingly common in both new home builds and even remodels.
Passive homes completely reduce the energy footprint of a home by isolating the interior from the exterior. In doing so, the air within the house is continually circulated without meeting the inconsistencies of the outside air. Passive builders then supplement with features like triple-paned windows and doors.
Photo by shutterstock
In 2015, ecostruct took on a massive undertaking—turning a centuries-old Brooklyn brownstone into a passive home and the result was overwhelmingly positive. After thoroughly insulating the entire property, the rate of air passing through the walls was the lowest recorded in NYC!
Don’t worry, you don’t have to go completely “passive” to reap some rewards of this trend. If you notice drafts, start by caulking your windows and door frames. For homes with inadequate insulation, look into the cost to re-insulate one or more rooms.
Home sustainability is achievable thanks to companies like ecostruct. When you work with a consultation and design company focused on providing sustainable building solutions, you’re on your way to a smaller carbon footprint.
Photo by ecostruct
If you’re excited about making the world a better place by incorporating sustainability with your own home, then give Jonathan and his team a call. You’re in good hands!