Getting in the green

Michael Hogan is a principal at Massachusetts-based Paradigm Partners, a consulting firm that works with building owners to figure out ways to decrease energy costs and create solutions for energy efficiency. He offers tips on how we can get the process started at home.

The idea of trying to make a house “green” can be overwhelming. Can you make small changes or do you need a comprehensive plan?

A homeowner can definitely make small changes without a plan, and implement those changes successfully. As with anything in life, a comprehensive plan yields better results.  There are three disciplines when it comes to making your house green: how the occupants use the house, how the house uses energy and how the house gets energy. Identifying things that fit into the first discipline is a great place to start (see sidebar).

Many times, green elements come with a high price tag. Is there a financial return?

I think that these investments will ultimately yield a return at resale and on energy costs. From personal experience, these investments have reduced my heating, cooling, lighting and water costs.

Should you have a long-term plan even if you don’t have the money to make changes all at once?

Very rarely do even the wealthiest individuals make all the changes at once. I would recommend a long-term plan for anyone who is serious about greening their home. The most important part is to outline the plan. Some projects — such as adding building insulation and replacing old windows — make sense to do at once to minimize labor costs.


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