Green building, where new homes are built using materials that conserve energy and environmental resources, is one of the fastest-growing segments of the home building industry today. But for the owners of the millions of existing homes in the United States, remodeling is the only way to incorporate green.

BIA-HAWAII Remodelers offers the following suggestions:

Install maximum insulation

Adding insulation is an easy way to increase efficiency. It will help save energy costs, increase comfort by better controlling temperature and improve indoor air quality by eliminating gaps through which dirt, dust, and other impurities can enter.

Install high-efficiency windows


Ordinary window glass transmits ultraviolet heat rays from the sun, which can increase your air conditioning bill dramatically. ENERGY STAR windows can help control this effect.


Seal exterior penetrations

You can reduce cold air loss by inspecting your home from the inside and outside and plugging cracks or openings. Be sure to check the areas where window frames meet the structure or siding of the house. Use caulking to seal small cracks on non-moving surfaces and install weather stripping on windows, doors and other movable parts of the home.

Buy ENERGY STAR-rated appliances

ENERGY STAR-rated appliances meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy. Qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models.

Install low-flow water plumbing fixtures

By using low-flow plumbing fixtures such as toilets, faucet aerators and shower-heads, you can save up to 25 percent of water used in conventional fixtures.

Upgrade to an ENERGY STAR-rated or tankless water heater


Replacing an electric water heater with a solar model can reduce costs by up to 80 percent a year. Over its 20-year lifespan a solar heater will prevent more than 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Purchase the highest efficiency AC system you can afford

Installing high efficiency AC equipment can reduce costs on average by 10 to 30 percent. It also can improve home comfort with better cooling and quieter operation, and often features higher quality components that result in longer equipment life.

For more information on green remodeling, visit online at or

Karen Nakamura is CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.