Updating your garage, or building a new one? Just like the choices you make for your home, the building decisions you make for your garage will affect far more than just your family. Choosing greener options when possible can help reduce your impact on the environment, and may even save you money.
When planning your garage, keep these eco-friendly tips in mind:
Don’t overbuild. The larger the footprint of your garage, the more resources it will consume and the more carbon will be released into the atmosphere as a result. Plan your garage to be big enough to meet your needs, and no larger. A reasonably sized garage will save you money, too, and allow more room for yard and garden.
Use “green concrete” for your slab. The term has nothing to do with the color. Green concrete is concrete in which a portion of the Portland cement has been replaced with other materials, such as flyash, which emits far less carbon in production. (Flyash is actually an inert industrial byproduct, so using it also helps put to use material that would otherwise be landfilled.)
Go for permeable pavement. While on the subject of concrete, don’t forget the driveway. Choosing a paving method that allows water to seep through can help prevent excessive runoff and improve storm water quality, which protects local rivers, streams and groundwater. These days, your choices include far more than just gravel. Many types of permeable concretes and attractive paving bricks are available; you are sure to find something that complements your home and garage.
If you plan to use wood, choose Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified lumber. This will ensure that the lumber you use in your garage is harvested in an ecologically responsible manner.
Choose locally sourced materials when possible. Going local means that far less fossil fuel will be burned in transporting your materials to your garage site. It also helps support your local economy.
It’s OK to think outside the box. Traditional frame-built structures are not always the most sustainable options. If you are the adventurous type, why not consider something a little different? How about straw bale, cordwood, or a garage made from recycled material such as an old shipping container? Many such eco-friendly materials can be had for a song, and can be used to make striking and practical garages.
Don’t forget the roof. You don’t have to settle for asphalt shingles. There are many alternatives considerably more eco-friendly. For example, a metal roof is far more durable than shingles, and saves energy in the long run. You can also use the roof to mount solar panels to power either your garage or your home. Another great idea is to install a green roof – literally, a roof with plants growing on top. Such roofs help improve local air and water quality, provide excellent insulation, and can even block EMF radiation from power lines.
Plan for daylighting. Garages are not usually considered living space, so most people don’t think to install windows in them. However, if you will be accessing the garage frequently through the man door or through your home, a window can greatly reduce lighting costs. Natural light will make the space more pleasant, too.
Consider LED lighting. Super-efficient LED light bulbs are becoming more affordable all the time, and have a number of advantages over compact fluorescents (CFLs). They are twice as energy efficient as CFLs, and typically last more than four times longer. They also contain no mercury, so avoid the disposal hazards associated with CFLs. Another advantage for a garage: LED bulbs burn so cool, the bulb itself is frequently made of plastic. So no more shattered glass should you accidentally hit the bulb while moving equipment in your garage.
Insulate. If you work in your garage, or if your garage is attached to your home, you’ll want to be sure to make it as energy efficient as possible to reduce heating and cooling costs and carbon emissions. Insulating the walls and roof of your garage is one of the best ways to do this.
Don’t skimp on the garage door. The biggest culprit in heating and cooling is drafts. In a garage, the biggest source of drafts is usually the door. You’ll want an energy efficient garage door that is insulated and doesn’t have a lot of gaps for air to flow through.
Building an eco-friendly garage need not be difficult or expensive. If you are planning to build a new garage or remodel your old one, why not make a game out of seeing how many sustainable features you can include? Such an exercise will stretch your creativity and help you feel even better about your new garage – and it may even save you money. Plus, you’ll have a conversation piece for years to come!
Justin White currently serves as Marketing Director for Garage Door Repair, LLC, which proudly serves the greater Washington DC area, as well as Maryland, Virginia, & Pennsylvania with repair, installation and maintenance services. Learn more about GDR by visiting: http://www.garagedoorrepair.com/