“Green” has been a buzz word for the past few years. As the concept increased in popularity, so did the prevalence of eco-conscious alternatives for everything: food, fashion, building materials, cleaners, etc. As a result, the green movement is appearing in our homes now more than ever. We discovered that many homeowners are pursuing green options already and that this will be a strong trend in 2011.
But does going green mean making sacrifices?
The Big Question
Although there are more green options now than ever before, going green, by definition, rules out a large number of non-green choices. So, does this mean homeowners will need to make sacrifices in order to adopt a green lifestyle? We weren’t sure, so we asked our panel of over 50 home improvement experts to find out:
• How do you think going green constrains homeowners in the design/remodeling process? Are there any limitations or sacrifices required?
• How does cost play into this: do you think homeowners sacrifice hard-earned money by going green? Where is the overlap between being cost effective and going green?
• For homeowners on a smaller budget, which green elements are the most cost effective? Does a small budget limit going green or can a little go a long way?
The Experts Weigh In
The majority of our experts think going green does not limit homeowners or force them to make sacrifices. Of course, not everyone agreed. Let’s take a look at what our experts thought about the issue:
The Expert Opinion: Green Does Not Require Sacrifice
The majority of our experts do not look at going green as something that limits a homeowner. 65% of our experts believe there are an equal number of eco-alternatives for any home project. Some even went as far to say that green options offer new opportunities, rather than hinder existing options. These experts believe manufacturers are creating eco-alternatives at a fast pace, so there should be no limitations on what green options homeowners can use in their homes. Some manufacturers are even creating new possibilities as they uncover more sustainable ways to build and maintain our homes.
“In the past, going green meant sacrificing design, function and price,” explained Jennifer Dusina of freedomRail closet solutions. “But today builders are reacting to the new demands of home buyers for greener choices. They’re working towards making green homes more obtainable for the masses.”
One of the main concerns our experts have is that the phrase “going green” is becoming trendy, and, as a result, devaluing the reasons for joining the green movement in the first place. A few experts even claimed the term “green” should be eliminated from homeowners’ vocabulary.
”The term green should seriously be banished; we’re far too into the mixed messaging for society to ever get on the same page,” said Kelly Fallis, interior designer and owner of Remote Stylist, a website offering online interior design services.
Regardless of how the terminology evolves, most of our experts think going green is here to stay. Some even said sustainability has been around for centuries, but it was in the form of reusing pass-alongs and hand-me-downs. The “newness” associated with the green movement has to do with the fact that manufacturers are catching on and starting to make new products that are sustainable.
“Saving the planet is no longer thought of as a fringe movement, but rather a way of life for all of us,” said Valorie Hart of the interior design blog Visual Vamp.
The Expert Opinion: Going Green Imposes Limitations
Among the 35% of responses that indicated going green requires a sacrifice from the homeowner, there was a predominant theme in what exactly was considered a limitation. Though some experts said there were limitations when it comes to choices and availability, all of them mentioned price as a restraining factor.
“I do believe going green constrains homeowners, but not because of design or product limitations,” said Chris Rodenius of Tool Rank, a site dedicated to tool reviews. “I believe the constraint has to do with the price of going green. If you want to go 100% green, it is going to cost you big time.”
Here are the ways our experts say going green can limit homeowners:
1. Cost: Sustainable options will cost more because they cost manufacturers more to produce. Thus, there will always be a large initial investment when choosing a green component for your home.
2. Materials: Sustainable materials are not always as readily available as their less eco-friendly alternatives. Thus, green materials may need to be custom ordered for a remodeling project. That is, if a sustainable material is even an option (in terms of both affordability and availability).
3. Options: Some experts believe there are still not enough green alternatives for the endless remodeling possibilities available to homeowners. They see limitations in colors, fixtures, fabrics, and more.
4. Time: Going green usually takes time. Time to pay off the investment, time to redeem tax rebates, time to gather the appropriate materials required.
The Bottom Line
Despite some hindrances, almost all of our experts agreed that there is no reason for homeowners to not join the green movement. In addition to commenting on whether going green has limitations or not, our experts suggested budget-friendly ways to go green. Though they disagreed on whether it was a limitation, all of our experts said price is a contributing factor to just how invested in the green movement a homeowner becomes.
The bottom line is you need to determine how important going green is to you and compare it to the potential limiting factors, most notably price. When you’ve determined your stance on the green movement and decide on a reasonable budget, move forward with implementation. If you’re not sure where to start, stay tuned for our upcoming post on budget-friendly ways to go green!