Sustainable Renovations: 3 Eco-friendly ways to upgrade your home that won’t break the bank.

Most waste removal companies estimate that the average home renovation produces 60 pounds of waste per square foot. From old flooring, discarded drywall, to paint and hazardous materials, there’s a significant amount of waste being put into landfills.


At Wallace Underpinning, we see first-hand how much waste is created in our day-to-day work, and we want to offer some tips for clients looking to do their part in reducing our environmental impact.


Below we are offering up 3 ways to make your renovation green!


1. Avoid Wasteful Teardowns with Basement Lowering Solutions

Basement Lowering is a great way to significantly improve your home's livable space while reducing the amount of waste produced and saving you money! Underpinning or other basement lowering techniques preserve the upper levels of your home. So, the only waste is the basement that is being replaced, rather than rebuilding the entire home.


Our various basement lowering solutions – including underpinning, benching, slab lowering, or a combination – preserves a lot of your existing infrastructure. Depending on the condition of your foundation, we can retain what you currently have so there’s less to dispose of. This would be done using a slab lowering technique.


Check out our blog on the 4 benefits of basement lowering.


2. Consider buying used items & donate materials that are in good shape


Thrifted or second-hand materials will save the environment and also help you significantly reduce costs. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Kijiji are all great spots to find a good deal and reduce your impact.


There are also lots of local stores that will sell off limited quantities of building materials from large commercial or residential builds, or stores selling off unwanted stock. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore or local auctions can be a great place to find limited quantity items like flooring or doors.


During your renovation, consider saving and donating items that are still in good useable condition, like kitchen cabinets, bricks, and other building materials. Just make sure you let your contractor know you'd like to try to donate as much material as possible so that it isn't destroyed during the demolition phase of your projects. One person’s junk is another’s treasure!


On a recent basement lowering project in East Vancouver, we removed an old chimney that had bricks with lots of life left in them. We were able to post the materials online for free and had them picked up directly from the site. This saved the homeowner on materials removal and helped us reduce our waste on the job.


The United States Environmental Protection Agency lists the following materials as reusable:

  • Easy-to-remove items like doors, hardware, appliances, and fixtures. These can be salvaged for donation or use during the rebuild or on other jobs. You can also recycle them at many locations in the Lower Mainland – click here to find a Return It near you.

  • Brick, concrete, and masonry can be recycled on-site as fill, subbase material, or driveway bedding.

  • Excess insulation from exterior walls can be used in interior walls for noise reduction.

If you are choosing to purchase new materials, consider buying items made from recycled materials and using ethically sourced methods. You can usually find out this information on the company’s website.


3. Upgrade your home's heating system to a high-efficiency furnace.

What better time to upgrade your furnace than during a basement renovation? Using a high-efficiency furnace reduces the amount of energy used to heat your home during our Vancouver winters. Plus, you can usually get a rebate from your natural gas provider, like FortisBC, and enjoy lower monthly natural gas bills.


Repairing cracks in your foundation will help keep heat in your home, which means your furnace doesn’t need to work overtime! If you notice cold air sneaking in it might be a good idea to call someone about foundation repair. Especially, if you find a crumbling foundation, as that may lead to structural concerns. Wallace Underpinning can help repair crumbling foundations. Contact us.


During a large-scale renovation, you can also recommend better insulation to save on your heating. Under-slab insulation is becoming an increasingly common way to keep your basements warmer.


Radiant heating options, like heated floors, are also more efficient ways to heat your home. According to Warmup, radiant heating can save you an average of 15% on your heating bills. Floor heaters typically don’t need to run as warm as baseboard or radiators, and you don’t experience ‘duct losses’ when warm air is pushed throughout your home.


Thanks for doing your part!


Educating yourself on the options available is the first step. Knowing how to reduce, reuse, and recycle will help your renovation be as sustainable as possible!

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