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Brand Publishing

Live like LEED: How to make an existing home eco-friendly

Lighter-colored roof materials can lower cooling costs.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the industry standard for green building guidelines, is practically a household term. Commercial buildings and new-construction homes proudly display LEED plaques at their entrances, underscoring their commitment to green building practices. But what to do with your pre-existing home? Here are three easy ways you can “LEED” your home into the future.

Get reflective
Many LEED-certified buildings are topped with a natural crown: a green roof. Planting on top of a building is not just beautiful, it also provides myriad benefits like water retention, clean air and cooling. While you could rip off your shingles and start planting trees, it might be easier to consider reflective coatings. The more light a roof reflects, the less heat your home will absorb. In sunny Southern California, this can offer real savings in both energy and costs. An easy rule of thumb: The lighter the color, the lighter your energy load will be.

Help your HVAC
LEED buildings have advanced heating and air conditioning systems that maximize efficiency by design, going as far as to take the construction of the building into account to minimize heating sun or chilling exposure. While you can’t redo your home’s footprint, a smart thermostat can help. Smart thermostats learn and adapt to maximize the efficiency of an HVAC system, keeping a home at an optimum temperature rather than trying to force comfort once it has become too hot or cold. With smartphone control, you can run the system when you’re not home – and when it’s not already inefficient – before you enter the front door.

Don’t be a pest
Pest management can have significant impacts on our environment. Toxic chemicals used to kill invasive animals get introduced into the surrounding environment. In Southern California, this can have disastrous effects on wild populations up the food chain (like endangered mountain lions). Rather than reaching for bug spray or rat poison, consider preventative measures. LEED standards suggest keeping distance between the home and any landscaping and placing fine mesh where bugs or rodents could enter. These enhancements work well in existing homes, but maintenance is also important — make sure any holes, cracks, and other potential entry points are filled to help avoid infestation.

Alan LaGuardia Custom Publishing Writer