The DIY spirit is alive and kicking, and we totally support that. But sometimes, particularly for major home renovations, you just have to call in a professional to get the job done right. Finding a good contractor is one thing; finding a good green contractor is quite another. What makes a plumber, electrician, or painter green, exactly? We break it down for you below the jump:
Green Magazine, a wonderful sustainable architecture and landscape design magazine out of Australia, asked four "green" contractors what it meant to be sustainable in their field.
1. What does it mean to be a "green" plumber? A good green plumber will have put themselves through green plumbing training, and they'll have experience dealing with green plumbing systems. A few key questions to ask include:
- What type of plumbing do they do? Is it mostly general household plumbing? What percentage of their work is green plumbing?
- What type of green plumbing training have they done?
- What products do they recommend?
- Why do they recommend one product over another?
- Can they provide references and is it possible to see examples of their work?
- Ask what they have done in their own home.
2. What does it mean to be a "green" electrician? A key trait that sets apart a green electrician from his/her contemporaries is the ability to identify opportunities for energy savings within your home. They should be able to do an energy audit, and they should know the best solutions, applications, and innovations currently available. Key questions to ask include:
- Have they undertaken any accredited training in energy efficiency or renewable energy installation?
- Can they explain to you what an energy efficient light is?
- What do they think is the most efficient way of completing the task at hand, i.e. a new heating or cooling system, lighting, or appliances?
- Do they have any references or previous energy efficient installations you can view?
3. What does it mean to be a "green" painter? Besides using only no or low-VOC paints and being familiar with natural paint products made with plant oils, clay and lime, a green painter should recycle any waste (and not throw waste water on the ground or in the grass!). They should also encourage the use of heat reflective paint on roofs to reduce the building's energy effect. A few questions to ask:
- Have they undergone any green painting training, or do they have any special certifications?
- Do they have experience using natural paints?
- What low-VOC paint brand do they recommend, and why?
- Do they understand and have solutions for the health concerns you address, such as allergies?
- How do they account for their waste?
For more reading, check out:
• How To Find a Good Contractor
• How To Work with a Contractor and Not Get Ripped Off
Subscribe to Green Magazine's online edition to read the full article.
(Image: Flickr member Dani0010 licensed for use under Creative Commons)