Go Green: Reduce, Reuse Recycle

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is a slogan that has been used for several years as a way of raising awareness about the environment and the negative effects the human population has on it. Reduce consumption and waste. Reuse anything we can. Recycle what can be used for something else. These principals apply to home building as well. If you are ready to build a new home, talk with your builder or contractor about ways you can do your part to reduce, reuse and recycle during the construction of your house using environmentally friendly practices to make it energy efficient, healthy and comfortable. The following list of ideas will get you started and carry you into the future once your home is complete.


  • Make every effort to limit material wastes during construction using dimensional planning.
  • Install energy efficient appliances that are Energy Star rated saving use of gas, electric and water.
  • Install a solar hot-water system allowing the sun to heat most or all of your hot water cutting back on energy used by a traditional water heater.
  • Insulate all hot water pipes ensuring you get hot water faster and avoiding waste.
  • Limit showers to five minutes or less.
  • Minimize water consumption by installing aerators in faucets and using timers on sprinkler systems.
  • Choose a dual flush toilet. With new technology, these toilets can reduce water consumption by nearly 67% compared to traditional toilets.
  • Run the dishwasher only when it is fully loaded.
  • Install dimmer switches and motion sensors with lighting fixtures saving electricity.
  • Take advantage of natural lighting instead of flipping the light switch.
  • Install compact fluorescent light bulbs. They last about seven to eight years and use less energy saving about $100 a year in electricity.
  • Use certified (sustainably harvested) wood products like bamboo instead of other hardwood floors.
  • Choose a heating and cooling system that is the proper size for the size of your home.
  • Install a timer on your heating and cooling system so you can program it to consume less energy when you are not home.
  • Take advantage of the cool basement in the summer instead of running the air conditioner more on the main and upper levels. During the summer, the basement can be up 15 degrees cooler than the rest of the home so plan to have a finished room in the basement, such as a recreation room, where everyone can gather.


  • Collect materials from demolition sites that can serve other purposes in your home. Turn old brick walls into brick pavers for your sidewalks. Salvage light fixtures from old hotels or restaurants and install them in your foyer, dining room or even on the covered patio.
  • Use a rain barrel or another method of collecting rainwater for plan irrigation.
  • Consider installing a GFX Drainwater Heat Recovery System, which allows a heat transfer from the wastewater pipe to a fresh water pipe. This strategy saves about 20-25 cents per shower saving roughly $73-$91 per year based one person taking a single shower every day.
  • Install renewable energy sources like solar panels or a wind generator.
  • Check yard sales, tag sales and thrift stores for furniture pieces you can refurbish and use in your new home.


  • Collect waste such as plastic wrappers and cardboard cartons from building supplies at the jobsite and take them to your local recycling center.
  • Select insulation made from recycled materials such as newspapers or cotton denim.
  • Finish your home with other recycled materials such as glass countertops, plastic decking, glass tile and cork flooring.
  • Chip or shred any shrubs and limbs collected when clearing your lot and use it for mulch in your landscaping.
  • Start your own compost pile with leaves and grass clippings from your yard.
  • Designate a particular area of the home (in the garage or utility room) as the family recycling center and equip it with tubs or containers for sorting recyclables.
  • Join a local recycling program and begin recycling anything you can keeping it out of the landfill.

These ideas at just a few of the many things you can do to take part in the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” campaign during and after the construction of your new home. For more information, please read Why Go Green? and Tips for Living Earth Friendly: Inside and Out.

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