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Properly Planning Your Eco-Friendly Upgrade Part One: 5 Things to Consider Before You Start

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Eco Home

The thought of having renovations of any kind performed can appear intimidating, especially to people who know what they need, yet don’t know where to start. An upgrade focused on improving energy usage (translation: money saving) for a home or business can prove even more daunting – but only if you lack the knowledge necessary to make those upgrades work for you. Your initial investment towards eco-friendly upgrades should yield long-term returns, while simultaneously producing short-term savings that benefit you in the day-to-day aspects of life. One mistake resulting from lack of product knowledge or information on a manufacturer or contractor can cost you and your company thousands – even millions, depending on the size of your organization – in lost revenue.

In stark contrast, the person who plans out a clear idea of the renovation project ahead, has a solid completion plan in place, and remains armed with current product knowledge and industry regulations feels a great sense of excitement and anticipation about the project ahead. The tips provided by Live Green Bean will infuse you with that same enthusiasm, and leave you feeling confident about your renovation project from beginning to end.

1.  Know Your Goal


Conducting a green upgrade is not as simple as going out and purchasing a bunch of energy-efficient products. When you make the decision to upgrade, you must first know your end goal. What do plan to get out of your upgrade? If you’re a homeowner, are you seeking to dramatically lower your electricity bill, and eventually get to a place where the electric company is paying you? Or perhaps you’ve heard about some of the tax credits offered to homeowners and want to cash in. When you run your small business out of your home, there are even more credits available for doing green upgrades on your home.

Businesses and corporations seek slightly different end results. While maximize savings and overall profits remain key goals for a company, industry requirements and government code compliance give industrial and corporate upgrade projects a higher sense of urgency, require greater attention to detail, and are much more extensive than home renovations. As a business or corporation considering green-certified upgrades, compliance, reduced energy use and waste production, and cost-efficiency should persist as your main motivators. Identify your overall purpose for the upgrade, and you are more likely to conduct the necessary product research, then confidently choose the merchandise that best achieves your objective.

2. Scope of the Project

Just how large are your upgrade aspirations? Does the project fall under the scope of a minor project or a major project? Minor renovations for home and businesses involve adding and upgrading individual elements, like installing eco-friendly windows, replacing doors, and choosing new flooring.

Entire room upgrades, renovation that involves demolition, or projects that include the installation of major equipment and machinery are considered major upgrades. Warehouses and corporate offices generally fall into this category, but even homeowners seeking to perform multiple upgrades at once may find that their project has graduated from “minor” to “major” after a deeper analysis.scope


3. Location Is Key

Consider where you live, and what the dominant climate is. Why? Because you want the weather to work in your favor, and optimize the power of Mother Nature. Perhaps you’ve done months of research on solar panels and feel like that’s the best upgrade for your company or home. If you live in an area that is predominantly windy and cloudy throughout the year, though, would solar panels be the wisest choice, or would it be best to look into utilizing wind power? In a sunny area like the southwestern U.S., solar panels would get you the maximum return on your investment. Opportunities exist to even harness the power of water in some areas that have high levels of rainfall, or are located near bodies of water. Ask yourself if you are choosing the best energy upgrades for your area and climate, and make sure to utilize the best options within your region.

When performing commercial upgrades, another factor to consider is the zoning location of your business. Warehouses, distribution centers, hospitals, corporate buildings, and factories have to know and abide by very strict codes and regulations in order to operate and remain in business. Depending on the zone your business resides in, you may be required to pay fees if new regulations or codes are passed. Your business could be cited for being out of compliance, or new laws might have passed in your area that require certain environmentally-friendly upgrades. Adversely, you may receive monetary incentives like additional tax credits (locally and state-wide), grants, and energy discounts.

4. Time Frame

How long is your renovation project going to take? Some projects take weeks, while major projects can take years to complete. Kaiser Hospital in southern California began construction on eco-friendly upgrades two years ago, installing eco-friendly carpet, windows, and toilets. On the surface, it seems like a project that should take six to nine months maximum per facility. However, the fact that construction is still underway demonstrates the importance of properly estimating how long your upgrade can take, while allotting extra time for unexpected delays. Doing so will also allow you to evaluate how daily construction will impact your day to day business functions.

When factoring the overall time construction will take, ask yourself this: Will your customer traffic and revenue decrease while the renovations are taking place? Something as minor as upgrading your building’s ventilation system could disrupt business in ways you didn’t expect. How well you reorganize the flow of your business traffic around the construction, and save your customers from the inconvenience, can definitely affect your daily profits. Concerns like these should be fully evaluated before starting an upgrade.

5. Financial Impact

Budget – Do you have an idea of how much you want to spend on upgrades? Based on revenue, savings, and capital, how much money can you invest towards your upgrades? If you already know that you only have $1000 to spend versus $10,000, then there’s really no reason to seek equipment that will transform a minor project into a major project.  Conversely, you should know if your company has $1,000,000 to invest in eco-friendly upgrades before you start getting quotes and bids totaling that amount.

Every investment should have some sort of return, be it monetary or humanitarian. The great thing about eco-friendly upgrades is that they offer both. Before jumping blindly in and purchasing every cool product you see online, conduct some research on how each product will financially impact your income presently, as well as in the long run.

Cost - Minor upgrades, like window replacement and putting in new floors, tend to be less expensive. Installation of something major, like a LEED-certified heating system, could run you thousands of dollars. Will the upgrades you choose have a positive financial impact on your company going forward?

Weigh the costs and the benefits of the purchases (including humanitarian benefits), and decide if the benefits outweigh the costs.  If the costs are too high, it doesn’t mean you should halt your plans to upgrade – it simply means you need to shift your priorities and focus your building and renovation efforts towards the one item or product that will yield the highest returns for you in the long run.  Either way, considering these major components before starting your upgrade saves you from headache and heartaches, as well as thousands in costs.

Have you recently completed any eco-friendly renovations and have additional tips? Share your story with the Live Green Bean community

(click here to join), and make sure to check back for part two of Live Green Bean’s “Eco-Friendly Upgrade” series.

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