Consider sustainability when you renovate.
1. Renovate rather than raze an old building. "It's about as green as you can go as a first step," says Toronto architect Janna Levitt.
2. Opt for locally sourced building materials. Use domestic wood species, which won't contribute to rainforest depletion, and will reduce the carbon emissions created by transportation.
3. Reuse materials that are on site. If you're altering the structure of your house, repurpose materials from the demolition. Toronto homeowners Debbie Adams and Peter Fleming turned discarded Douglas fir beams (from both on and off site) into furniture, shelving, stair treads and handrails.
4. Install an on-demand water heater. Instead of a bulky tank heater, try one of these small, energy efficient models, which heat water only when it's needed (and save space).
5. Plant a roof garden. If you have a flat and well-structured roof, make it "green". This will cool the interior of the house, improve the surrounding air quality and provide a tranquil spot to sit.
6. Reduce the need for artificial lighting. Install light tubes or skylights in rooms that get little or no natural light. Some skylights crank open, which also helps with ventilation.
7. Refurbish old furniture. Keep pieces that are structurally sound from ending up in landfills by refinishing and reupholstering.
8. Minimize lawn area and use native plants. These require less maintenance and water than ones bred in other climates.
9. Capture and reuse storm water. Disconnect your downspouts from the city's sewer system, and divert the runoff onto a lawn or into a rain barrel so you can use the water for garden upkeep.
10. Turn off the air conditioner. Install ceiling fans and open windows for cross-ventilation instead.