“Going green” is obviously a buzz phrase these days when remodeling in Chicago.  People want to go green to save the environment, and to save money, too. remodeling in chicago When people go green in their remodeling projects, they think about things like solar panels, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and products made from sustainable materials or those that are eco-friendly (certain types of flooring, countertops, cabinets, paints and finishes). All good things that are environmentally friendly and some that can help cut down on energy costs as well.

These building products, interior finishes and appliances should be incorporated during the building phase. However, there are also all sorts of things you can do to go green during the tear-down phase of your remodeling project in Chicago and beyond.

Think about it.  Typically, during demolition, everything gets put into a dumpster to be hauled away … destined for the landfill.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 40% of the country’s solid waste stream is made up of construction waste and demolition debris.

The alternative is to recycle the used materials.  What can be recycled?  Just about anything.  Bricks, lumber, countertops, cabinets, appliances, plumbing and lighting fixtures, flooring, carpeting, windows and doors.  The list goes on.

Auction, Sell and Consign – Local Resources Help Homeowners Go Green

So what do you do with all this stuff? You can go online and use an auction site to sell it yourself. You would be surprised how much you can get — thousands of dollars, what’s even better is that you can also go on a deliivery auction site too in order to have the item you’ve sold delivered to the buyer. A delivery auction site is also a way to save the environment as you get quotes from delivery companies that already have a delivery vehicle going to the place you want your item delivered but they have room for more than what they are currently transporting so in order to make the most of the one trip they try and fill the van up with multiple orders which in turn saves fuel and saves the environment. If you don’t fancy selling the items online yourself you can also contact local companies that will auction it off on your behalf or purchase it from you and take it back to their facilities and re-sell it to customers.

Take a look at Murco Recycling Enterprises Inc. Murco amasses fixtures, appliances and materials from houses prior to demolition or renovation, and then facilitates the exchange of materials between sellers and buyers via auctions. This is an easy way to go green before your home remodel! All you have to do is show the Murco team their property, and they’ll determine if they have clientele for what’s in your house. They handle all of the other details from there at no cost to you. You simply collect the proceeds.

Another resource is Demolitions Promotions, Inc. If you are planning a renovation, Demolitions Promotions, Inc. will consider buying any number of items in your home (including doors, windows, kitchen cabinets, light fixtures and more) and offering you cash for it. Demolitions Promotions, Inc. then re-sells these materials to other green-minded homeowners in its 25,000-square-foot warehouse in Bellwood.

If your home’s interiors will be taking on a new look altogether after the remodel, you can make some green while going green by selling furniture, window treatments, art and accessories in good condition. The list is endless when it comes to selling your existing furnishings. You can start with higher-end consignment shops in your immediate area. It’s worth your time to check out Consign and Redesign in west-suburban LaGrange. Email snapshots of the furniture you want to consign, and co-founders Negeen and Vicky will give you a ballpark of what the resale price would be. When your item sells, you get 50 percent of the sale. If your item doesn’t sell after 90 days, it’s your choice to pick it up or donate it.

Going Green with a Donation  

Donating your home’s building materials, appliances or furnishings is a great option. It is not uncommon for people to donate $100,000 or even more of raw materials. This can provide a major financial benefit, as well as an environmental benefit. One organization in the Chicago area that accepts donations of materials is the ReBuilding Exchange. This organization has diverted nearly 5,000 tons of materials from landfills in the last few years.

In addition, the Chicagoland area has several Habitat for Humanity ReStore locations, which are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price. Visit the Habitat for Humanity Web site to find a store near you.

Like everything else with your remodeling project, this phase requires planning. There is actually even a phrase – home deconstruction – that describes the process.  Many contractors (including us) are happy to assist in the going green process. Our team always does our part to minimize what goes into the dumpster; we’ve learned creative ways to do this. For example, we usually take houses down by hand verses using an excavating machine. This way, we can pass the lumber on to a concrete contractor that can reuse it for his formwork.

The idea here is to make sure you review ideas with your contractor and express your wishes to donate materials, so they can make sure they do not demolish them while they are tearing down. Think about it for your next project.  It’s good for the environment, and good for your wallet.   What are your thoughts on the subject?