Finding an eco-friendly contractor

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From new home construction to major remodels, homeowners are increasingly turning to energy efficient and green building practices to make their homes more environmentally friendly.

Living in an eco-friendly home is attainable with the ever-increasing number of green building products on the market. Homeowners now have green options for everything from insulation and flooring to lawn fertilizer and paint.

As more companies tout green products and services, consumers should do their homework to ensure their contractor understands eco-friendly techniques and practices them.

According to a nationwide Angie's List poll:

  • 72 percent of respondents consider green work practices important, and of those, 15 percent try to hire only green service providers.
  •  In a separate poll, however, 62 percent of respondents say they're either somewhat skeptical or consider most green claims to be gimmicks.

Green often means different things to different people. Researching a company's certifications will help weed out the shady from the sincere.

  • For example, LEED certification means that an independent, third party verifies a home meets high performance standards in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
  • Contractors certified as green professionals by the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry must document experience and training.

Angie's List Tips: Is a company really green?

  1. Scrutinize ads: Advertising often misleads consumers with words, artwork and vague or exaggerated statements.
  2. Seek certifications: Companies who care about the environment should take the time to earn industry-specific green certifications from a reputable third party, such as LEED, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) or the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Membership in NARI or NAHB doesn't guarantee the company is green. Check that the company has earned their green certification for design and construction.
  3. Do your homework: Confirm green training, licensing (if applicable), credentials, and work practices. Solar panel installers, for example, require licensing in some states.
  4. Track materials: Ask companies if they use sustainable products, such as the Forest Stewardship Council's certified wood from sustainably harvested forests. The National Fenestration Rating Council certifies windows for energy performance, and products earning the Energy Star or WaterSense labels ensure energy and water efficiency.
  5. Have a conversation: Take time to make sure your potential hires know that work practices that protect the environment are important to you. As you discuss your priorities, you'll get a good feel for whether the contractors share your passion. It will set your project off to a great green start.

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