Incentives for Healthy, Eco-Friendly Remodels

Richard Moyle, with the Mesothelioma Cancer Resource Center recently inquired about posting an article on this blog in relation to the new tax incentives that have been placed into law to “jump start” our economy. Of course, we don’t need a jump start – we need a whole different engine.

We need an economy that runs not on some insatiable growth-hungry, greedy engine, but a sustainable, development-centered engine. That being said, I agree with Richard on the need to inform people about the risks of Asbestos when remodeling your home. I am also pleased that our government is giving incentives to make our homes greener. And since I am currently studying to take my LEED AP Exam (hence the thin number of posts this week), this is relevant to my present state of mind.

Richard says this:

Save Your Money and Health By Remodeling Green

President Barack Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law on February 17, 2009. This act included extensions of the Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives first enacted in 2005, in addition to some new tax credits for building or remodeling your home with eco-friendly or “green” materials.

This is good news for people looking to remodel their homes. Some of the measures eligible for tax credits include:

  • Replacement windows and skylights, and exterior doors which are equal to or below a 0.30 U factor and a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of 0.30. Storm windows that meet the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) in combination with their paired external window are eligible (taking into account the applicable climate zone). Storm doors paired with U-factor rated wood doors are eligible provided they do not exceed the default U-factor requirement for the combination. See the 2009 IECC for details.
  • Window films certified by the manufacturer that the product meets the requirements of a “qualifying insulation system.”
  • Sealing cracks in the building shell and ducts to reduce infiltration and heat loss – these should be sealed so as to be consistent with the 2009 IECC.
  • Pigmented metal roofs or an asphalt roof with cooling granules must meet Energy Star requirements.
  • Added insulation to walls, ceilings, or other part of the building envelope that meets the 2009 IECC (& supplements) specifications.

These “green” home modifications will help save on energy costs and provide tax credits, but some of them may even be better for your health. For example, if you live in a home built before 1970, odds are it was insulated with asbestos. Replacing the asbestos with an alternative insulation material like cotton fiber, lysine foam or cellulose is more energy efficient and reduces the risk of asbestos exposure.

When left undisturbed, asbestos is not dangerous. But if the asbestos fibers are exposed, you could harm your lungs and develop a rare and deadly cancer called mesothelioma. Because it may take 15 to 25 years after exposure for symptoms to appear, a mesothelioma diagnosis is often made when the cancer is in its advanced stages and is very difficult to treat effectively

Once your home is asbestos free, green alternatives should be used to replace it. In the United States, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that the use of recycled building materials can reduce energy costs from 25 percent annually. These eco-friendly alternatives allow for a clean home, free of hazardous materials. For more information on insulation alternatives, visit the United States Department of Energy website.

I encourage everyone I know to do right by there grandchildren and live a more sustainable lifestyle. Making an improvement on your home to save resources and decrease or eliminate impacts on the environment is not only good for your health, but good for your grandchildren’s future. Being safe while making those improvements insures that you are around long enough to have grandchildren, too.

2 thoughts on “Incentives for Healthy, Eco-Friendly Remodels”

  1. Radiant barriers count towards the tax credit as well. A radiant barrier installed in the attic can reduce your monthly electric bills quite a bit and are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

  2. Everyone wants a sustainable lifestyle. Making an improvement on our home to save resources and decrease or eliminate impacts on the environment is not only good for your health, but good for your grandchildren’s future. Being safe while making those improvements insures that you are around long enough to have grandchildren, too in the near future. Thanks for this post.

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