REGREEN your home in the Heights

Before: a non-residential building, built in the 1970s, with no wall or roof insulation.

Does the mortgage and economic crisis have you in a dilemma over how to deal with the house you are living in with an expanding family? Are you looking for an environmentally friendly action plan for your remodeling project? Are your energy bills higher than your mortgage?

A new publication from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) may be just what you’ve been waiting for. REGREEN is a home remodeling guide prepared by the USGBC and ASID (American Society of Interior Designers). The guide is available in print, and online at

The online publication links to numerous resources. The guidelines are organized by projects, such as "Kitchens" and "Finished Basement." There's even a "Gut Rehab" category for those taking on a really big renovation.

Each category includes three major discussion points. First, the "Integrated Predesign Issues’" section suggests primary decisions that need to be made at the start of the project, including how this project may impact other parts of the house or site.

Next is a "Strategies" checklist of choices and considerations the project may require. For example, electrical, HVAC and wall construction options are listed and referenced in a strategy library. The library includes a brief description of the pros and cons of the choices, as well as links to more sources of information.

Finally, a "Case Study" illustrates strategies used on an actual construction project.

As detailed as it is, REGREEN is written in understandable language and the format is easy to skim for information. Yet, builders and architects will also find it to be great resource. There are suggested wall construction details and great resources like Building Science Consulting, a useful source for dealing with cold climate construction and moisture control issues.

If your project goal is improved energy efficiency, then take a look at the "Deep Energy Retrofit" project section. This section includes some really interesting new construction ideas that would drive energy consumption to a bare minimum.

This just scratches the surface of the information that can be found in the REGREEN publication. The world of construction technology is changing rapidly. And with 40 percent of the energy used in the US going towards constructing and operating our buildings, it can’t happen soon enough. With predictions that within 30 years we will approximately double the number of buildings in our country, we have to be thinking ahead. How much energy will we use? How many of our natural resources disappear? How big will our landfills become? Learning how to retrofit and remodel the homes we have is just about the greenest decision we can make. Learning how to do it in a sustainable way is the next.

Chuck Miller has lived in Cleveland Heights for 24 years. He is an architect and principal with the sustainable architecture design firm of Doty & Miller Architects. The firm has completed three LEED-certified building and three more certifications are pending final review. They have 16 additional projects registered with the USGBC.

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Volume 2, Issue 1, Posted 9:32 AM, 12.19.2008