Green Construction Choices: Renovating vs. Building from an Environmental Standpoint

green construction building renovating

The renovating vs. rebuilding dilemma is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to owning a home property. You may like your neighborhood but dislike your home or need to alter it for a particular reason. Besides costs and time, eco-friendliness of the whole process is becoming more and more relevant since most homeowners nowadays see the benefits, both financially and environmentally, of going green. There are plenty of practical advantages and disadvantages to both construction approaches.

Green Renovating vs. Building for Homeowners

Here are a few insights in regard to the environmental issues:


Renovation really does seem like a greener solution at first. but the truth is there are so many factors to consider before making a wise decision.

First of all, renovating a house instead of tearing down the old one and rebuilding means less construction and demolition waste. Considering the fact that this kind of waste makes 40 percent of solid waste dropped off at municipal dumps each year, it’s clear why any kind of reduction is good news for the environment. However, this waste reduction during renovation can be even greater – if the materials you were about to throw out get recycled instead. Sites like Craiglist or Freecycler can be a good place to put up old materials and thus reduce the amount of waste even more.

On the other hand, the way you remodel matters a lot, too. If you’re going to just remove and replace everything in a conventional way, that tyipcally won’t really make your remodel project green. There are earth-friendly approaches to remodeling that should be implemented in order for your home to be actually considered a green home after the work is done.

Tearing down the whole house requires heavy machinery and thus a lot of energy is used which is not the case if you opt for a remodel. Eco-friendly demolition is becoming a trend at the moment but still – renovating will always need less machinery than rebuilding. That’s also good for the land around your house – if you decide to remodel, the greenery and the trees will probably stay intact.


Building a house, on the other hand, might be faster when compared to a full remodel, but that also depends on the type of house you wish to build and who you hire to do the job. For example, these new home builders can lead the whole process and maximize the speed – from sketch and cost plans to the regular maintenance of your new home.

Some experts claim that the biggest issue of building a new house is the carbon footprint that the process leaves behind. Namely, that it takes from 10 to 80 years to overcome the negative carbon impact building a new house can make.

There are two main sources of CO2 during the building process. The first one is the so-called embodied CO2 which is given off during the production of materials needed for new home and the building process itself. The second source is operational CO2 which comes from the energy use of living in the building. However, green houses are proven to be 30 percent more efficient than standard ones, so the question of negative carbon impact is just a matter of perspective.

In the long run, building a new house is eco-friendlier since homes are now built to be energy-efficient, with low-flow appliance and fixtures. That also means lower cooling and heating bills and that’s the reason why market research has shown that green homes sell an average of 9% higher than regular homes.

Finally, neither renovation nor rebuilding is eco-friendly if you don’t opt for sustainable, toxin-free materials. Choosing to build your home with these kinds of materials will not only be good for the environment but it will also lead to better indoor air quality and provide better health conditions for your household.

Eventually, whatever option you choose, remember one thing – it’s very beneficial to become as eco-friendly as possible in every aspect of life. Everything from a home’s foundation to the roof can be built eco-friendly. It’s all up to you, as long as you keep it green and healthy.

Lillian Connors

If one thing is true about Lillian Connors, her mind is utterly curious. That’s why she can’t resist the urge to embark on a myriad of home improvement projects and spread the word about them. As the Co-editor of Smooth Decorator, she cherishes the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on.

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