Q: Is it more sensible to make energy efficiency upgrades on a 1960's home than to choose green options on a newly constructed home? I've been told that remodeling an older (1960's) home with energy-efficient components makes more sense green-wise than upgrading options on a newly constructed home. Can you recommend any good reading on this topic?
Sent by Tom
Answered by: Steve Saunders, Irving, TX, TexEnergy Solutions, Inc
Your question poses quite a dilemma. What exactly is "green-wise"? One person could take it to mean the overall carbon impact of the decision. Under that scenario, perhaps there is less overall impact by not building another home. However, the next person might just measure their personal energy use as the key point of comparison and decide that an energy efficient new home would allow them to minimize the total personal impact of their energy use. Ultimately, the argument about what is or is not sustainable is personal in nature, and how you consider and rate the issues can have a striking impact on the eventual decision.
• Consider that your location and your lifestyle—that is, how you live in your home—have a major impact on energy use and total carbon footprint. Do you walk your errands or must you drive? An older house may be closer to work or shopping than a new home built further out in the suburbs. The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED green building rating system is designed to promote building locations where jobs and services are within walking distance of the home or near public transit. Walk Score will give you a walkability score for addresses in the United States, Canada, and the UK.
Including a great resource list for more reading
Green Home Guide is an online residential resource from the U.S. Green Building Council. Find thousands of green home ideas, advice, and green professionals at Green Home Guide.
(Image: Dan's MMC Home via AT:Chicago)