You don’t need a certification to make your home greener – even if you want to make it much, much greener. You don’t have to do everything at once, and you won’t spend much more on a green remodeling project than you would on one that isn’t. The key is to understand what green really means. Most people believe green means energy efficiency, but that’s just one part of a three-prong strategy that also involves water efficiency and indoor-air quality. Philip Beere owns Green Street Development in Scottsdale, Ariz., and remodeled the first home in Arizona to earn a LEED for Homes “gold” certification. Beere steers homeowners away from referring to the effort as a green one. “I like to translate that into a ‘performance home’ and talk about home performance and not just energy,” he says. Still, energy efficiency is a good place to start. The first step is to hire an energy specialist to test your home for leaks – in air-conditioning ducts, windows, walls, the attic. Once you seal your ducts (ask your electric utility if you qualify for a rebate on the job), caulk the windows, repair attic insulation and make other improvements, you can have the test again to learn how much better the home is performing. Once your home’s envelope is performing as it should, you can make a plan to replace older, energy-inefficient items as you can afford them. Next, invest in plumbing fixtures that make water savings automatic. The Environmental Protection Agency has a new WaterSense designation for faucets, showerheads and even lawn-watering fixtures that use less and waste less. Also, properly ventilating bathrooms and kitchens can help your whole family breathe easier, and choosing less-toxic versions of paints, carpets, and other materials can go a long way to improving your home’s indoor-air quality. | Read More