Mother Earth Living

Green Building: Room Addition Checklist

Use this handy checklist to keep your home safe and eco-friendly as you remodel.
By David Johnston and Kim Master
March/April 2006

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Job site

• Limit vehicular traffic.
• Mark fragile site features.
• Hand-dig utilities in root zones.
• Protect native topsoil.
• Reuse construction and deconstruction waste. (See “Remodeling Construction: Waste Not, Why Not?” page 18)
• Recycle job-site waste.


• Use concrete containing recycled waste.
• Install insulated concrete forms (ICFs).
• Use recycled-content rubble for backfill drainage.

Structural framing

• Use advanced framing techniques (AFT).
• Use reclaimed lumber.
• Use FSC-certified wood.
• Use engineered lumber.
• Use finger-jointed studs.
• Use SIPs for walls and roofs.

Exterior siding

• Use alternatives to wood.
• Use fiber-cement exterior siding.
• Use finger-jointed trim.
• Install drainage planes.


• Calculate how much roofing you’ll need.
• Avoid adhesives.
• Provide a light-colored or reflective roof.
• Install radiant barriers.
• Install 40- to 50-year roofing.


• Install clerestory windows.
• Install light shelves.
• Install energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs).
• Install lighting controls.
• Minimize light pollution.


• Use formaldehyde-free, recycled-content fiberglass insulation.
• Use cellulose insulation.
• Use mineral/rock wool insulation.
• Caulk, seal and weatherstrip.

Solar energy

• Install double-pane windows.
• Install low-E windows.
• Install low-conductivity frames.
• Incorporate natural light.
• Incorporate and distribute thermal mass.
• Install window coverings and overhangs.
• Install a solar water heater.
• Install grid-connected PV panels.
• Install off-the-grid PV panels.
• Install solar hot water pre-plumbing.

Interior materials/finishes

• Use formaldehyde-free materials.
• Select wood flooring certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
• Use rapidly renewable flooring materials.
• Install recycled-content carpet and underlayment.
• Use low- or no-VOC and formaldehyde-free paint.
• Use low-VOC, water-based wood finishes.
• Use solvent-free adhesives.

Reprinted with permission from Green Remodeling: Changing the World One Room at a Time by David Johnston and Kim Master (New Society, 2004)

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