Green Your Basement — and Your Home
Most of us renovate our basements for the sole purpose of increasing the amount of usable space in our homes. A basement renovation can also be a great opportunity to add some features that will make your house more energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, and less expensive to maintain.
To help you make your basement as green as possible, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers the following tips:
- First, identify whether your basement has any significant moisture problems, and correct them before you start renovating. Unsolved moisture issues can damage or destroy new materials and finishes, and potentially ruin your renovation, and investment.
- To prevent future moisture problems and discourage the growth of mold, use moisture-resistant materials, finishes and surfaces.
- To improve the energy-efficiency of your basement and cut down on your monthly utility bills, add extra insulation to the walls and, if possible, floor. Insulate exposed cold and hot water pipes. Install high-efficiency ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances, windows and lights. Inspect, adjust and seal leaks in the forced-air system ducts if necessary.
- Choose high-quality materials and products that are durable, resilient, and can be adapted to changes in your needs and abilities as you get older. This could include providing solid backing around bathtubs and shower stalls to permit the installation of grab bars. Taking a few moments to plan ahead now could save you a great deal of time and money down the road.
- To create a healthy and safe environment for your family, test your basement for radon, methane and other soil gases so you can more cost-effectively remediate any problems as part of your renovation. Make sure you have plenty of air circulation and ventilation in the newly added rooms. Choose low pollutant emitting flooring, cabinets, countertops, paint, cement, grout, sealants and caulking.
- Reduce the environmental footprint of your renovation by choosing recycled or certified forest products for the floors, cabinets, tiles, drywall and millwork. If possible, use products and materials that are locally sourced and lightly processed. Plus, decide in advance where and how you will reuse, recycle or properly dispose of any old or discarded fixtures, cabinets and materials.
- To avoid expensive rework, try to predict and address any potential problems or concerns right from the very beginning of the project. To increase the longevity and affordability of your renovation, include energy-efficient, long-lasting and water-saving features wherever possible. Choosing a classic, timeless design that won’t go out of style for years to come can also help reduce costs.