Creating an eco-friendly home

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Eco-friendly communities have wildly increased in popularity, thanks to those who lead by example. One family acts on a decision to make their home green and a neighbor follows suit, followed by another, then another, and so on.

However, as examples go, the city of Calgary deserves a standing round of applause. Read Calgary’s plan “Reducing the Ecological Footprint: A Calgary Approach.”

Global Footprint Network is a non-profit defined on its website as “an international think tank working to advance sustainability.” Case study findings May 10, 2014 published by the non-profit report the following:

“The City of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, is the first city government to develop concrete Footprint reduction targets. … This past year, the Calgary community has joined the EcoFootprint project with a number of new programs. Accomplishments include a personal EcoFootprint Calculator specific to Calgary residents.”

During an interactive video, the EcoFootprint Calculator ask questions in various categories about day-to-day activities and assigns each category a score based on user responses. Each category score then generates individualized suggestions for eco-friendly living.

Suggestions are realistic and similar, yet user specific, to the suggestions listed below. Because scores are specific to individual responses, the calculator is the perfect starting point to a green home.

To use the EcoFootprint Calculator, click here.

Reduce your energy use

To almost instantaneously reduce the amount of energy your home consumes, weatherize. Installing door sweeps and outlet insulators, filling gaps around windows and replacing spent weather-stripping is a low-cost effective way to cut back on heat and air conditioning related energy consumption. A DIY project or left to a professional contractor listed in the directory, it’ll take less than a day to do.

Replace old appliances, water heaters and thermostats with energy-efficient models and swap out incandescent light bulbs for CFL (compact fluorescent light bulbs) or LED (light-emitting diodes) types.

Most importantly, stop wasting energy. Only heat and cool your home when you’re there and only do so in the areas of your home that you use. Establish the habit of keeping garage, attic and closet doors, and accesses to other non-insulated areas closed.

Think eco-friendly for home improvement projects

When embarking on a home improvement project, use products that support going green. For instance, if a new deck is in your horizon, purchase composite decking materials, for longer lasting durability than wood.

Kitchen remodeling can support going green, too. Instead of marble or granite, look into using paper-based countertops, which, according to the article “Going Green: Eco-Friendly Home Improvement and Building Products” written by Carter Oosterhouse, the paper-based countertops “made of tree pulp taken from strictly managed sustainable forests,” have become a  “great alternative to stone and plastic surfaces.”

Other kitchen countertop materials Oosterhouse suggests include recycled glass, which is comparable to granite when it comes to durability and heat resistance.

Adding to the list of eco-friendly options to consider when embarking on your kitchen remodeling, the article suggests natural linoleum flooring, stating the treatment is “made from all raw materials, including linseed oil, resins and wood flour. … its bactericidal properties stop microorganisms from multiplying and it is easy to clean.” Cork flooring too, is an eco-friendly option, both durable and easy to install.

With so many eco-friendly options, you’re certain to make good use of the directory, where you’ll find resources and services throughout Calgary to help you achieve your goal of going green at home before you know it.

First published, September 18, 2014,  written by Teri Barth, Freelancer Online Editor for

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