We’ve talked in the past about going paperless, but that’s not the only way your contracting business can be eco-friendly.
Offering your customers more sustainable, energy-efficient products and services is another easy way to go green.
Many products, like water saving faucets and motion sensor lighting, help reduce water, electricity, and maintenance costs for home and business owners. Reducing the amount of chemicals by using eco-friendly materials also lowers the amount of indoor pollution, which means healthier living.
You may associate the costs of building or remodeling with green materials to be high, and until recently they were. Thankfully, recent interest in homeowners and businesses becoming more eco-friendly has made prices for these materials more reasonable and comparable to traditional materials.
Also, according to the US. Green Building Council, "73% of single-family builders and 68% of multifamily builders say consumers will pay more for green homes." and a Harris Interactive poll of over 2,000 Americans "found that nearly half (49%) consider eco-friendly features more important than luxury items in a home (31%)"
So, why choose between making a profit and protecting the environment? You can do both.
Here are just a few examples of sustainable products and services you can offer that show you care about both the environment and your customer’s well-being.
Zero VOC paint
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals emitted from many household products and building materials. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects, according to the EPA. Benjamin Moore Natura, Sherwin Williams’ ProMar 200 Zero VOC Interior Latex, and Behr Premium Plus are just a few Zero VOC paint options. If you’re already using low VOC paints, don’t forget to let your customers know.
Cool roofs are designed to reflect more sunlight than a typical roof, keeping the building cooler, and saving money by using less electricity to cool with air conditioning. Even if a roof isn’t designed that way initially, you can offer customers the option to make their roofs cooler. This article from energy.gov lists different types of roofs and ways they can be made cool.
Soy foam insulation
Warm and cool air can leak into and out of a poorly insulated building, costing a substantial amount of energy and money on heating and cooling. Spray foam insulation fills in gaps, reducing leakage and saving money. Soy foam insulation partially replaces the petroleum ingredients in traditional spray foam with soybean oil and in many cases is sprayed on using water. It also has many of the benefits of spray foam, including mold resistance, and lowering heating and cooling costs, but doesn’t contain formaldehyde or other dangerous chemicals.
According to the USGS, the average person uses 80-100 gallons of water per day. Between taking showers or baths, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and flushing the toilet, there’s a lot of water that can be saved. That’s where water-efficient fixtures, like those with the WaterSense label, come in. Fixtures like sink faucets, shower heads, and toilets that have this label help reduce water usage, saving time, energy, and money.
If you’ve ever seen the heating bill for a drafty house after a cold, windy winter, you know that windows can have a drastic impact on a home’s energy efficiency and electricity costs. Energy-efficient windows can pay for themselves by reducing heating, cooling, and lighting costs. NFRC Energy Performance labels on windows and doors help determine their efficiency. You’ll generally want to see a low number for U-Factor, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, and Air Leakage, and a higher number for Visible Transmittance.
Older incandescent light bulbs don’t just light your home, they give off a substantial amount of heat as well, boosting your electricity bill with no benefit to you. LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and other energy-efficient lighting emit very little heat in comparison, reducing your electricity bill, but also decreasing the chance of home fires. Energy Star rated LEDs also use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting, according to energy.gov.
Sustainable flooring materials
Contrary to popular belief, you can still get beautiful hardwood flooring and remain eco-friendly. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) promotes responsible forest management, growth, and harvest for the long-term health of the forest without the use of harmful chemicals. Companies like EcoTimber provide FSC certified wood flooring, but also offer other sustainable flooring materials including bamboo and cork.
This is only a fraction of the products you can offer to make customer’s homes and businesses more eco-friendly. What other sustainable products and services do you use?