The Right Contractor for Your Green Renovations

  • November 11th 2009

by Michael Kiefer

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The Right Contractor for Your Green Renovations: Figure 1

If you are making improvements to your new home, chances are you want them to be as energy efficient as possible. Deciding who you employ to do these improvements is almost as important as the renovations themselves.

Before considering green upgrades, it is good to start by looking at a year’s worth of your utility bills to figure out how much energy you actually use. As you become more conscious about your general energy consumption and are confident that you have done everything possible to reduce unnecessary usage, the next thing you want to do is figure out where some of the inefficiency still exists by calling in the pros. Depending on the scope of the project and whether you will need a full service company or just one or two subcontractors, you may want to have a green audit completed on your home.

In order to vet the contractors and consultants that are out there, novices should begin with websites like Efficiency First or the Maryland Home Performance with Energy Star. Both sites have built a nicely organized platform that allows the general public to search for certified energy auditors/contractors in their area. After some initial research on these sites, you may want to cross reference any of the contractors with Amicus Green in Kensington, Maryland, the area’s largest green construction supply center.

I reached out to Zach Dobelbower, the founder and president of the environmental consulting company EcoHouse, to get his thoughts on finding a knowledgeable green building contractor. Here is what he had to say:

“A homeowner looking to improve the energy efficiency of their home should hire a contractor who has a solid understanding of building science and the house as a system. Homeowners should work with contractors who are certified through the Building Performance Institute or RESNET, the Residential Energy Services Network. These auditors/contractors will have either a BPI ‘Building Analyst’ or ‘HERS Rater’ certification. The contractor should be able to clearly explain and quantify what benefits and savings you are likely to receive based on the assessment of your house, and provide a reasonable estimate on the return on investment.

For air sealing work (which is highly likely), it’s also a good idea for a homeowner to request a ‘test-in test-out’ analysis (blower door assisted), which provides a number value on the air leakage reduction and confirms that the work was done right.

Further, I would request quotes from at least two companies, and don’t be afraid to ask for a copy of the contractor’s building science certifications, license, and insurance information.”

So, before you move forward, look at your utilities, find out where the energy inefficiencies exist in your home and do your homework before selecting a particular green contractor.

Join Michael Kiefer on the DC Saturday Tour of Homes each weekend as he takes you on a tour of listings on the market in different DC neighborhoods.

See other articles related to: green real estate dc

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_right_contractor_for_your_green_renovations/1502.

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