RSMeans recently published Green Home Improvement by Daniel D. Chiras, PhD. It includes 65 home improvement projects that can be used to “green up” a house or building. The projects range from laying bamboo flooring, to heating system upgrades, to building an addition.
The book is wonderfully written, and is meant for the average home owner, not contractors. However, I believe this book would be a good reference for contractors as well, as it presents projects in an easy to understand way that would help educate their customers as to what is involved in a particular project. Do-it-yourselfers would also like this book, as it tells you how much of a particular project you can do, gives pretty detailed instructions, and lets you know when you are in over your head and should call someone.
For those used to RSMeans’ other publications on construction costs, this book will be a bit of a disappointment. It does discuss cost, but only at a higher level for comparison of materials. The good thing is this can start the conversation with an owner about the cost effectiveness of a project, without locking in a price. It also compares apples to apples, when possible, allowing the reader to get a good idea of how much more or less expensive a project will be when compared to other alternatives.
Green Home Improvement is a good reference for both building owners and contractors on some of the possibilities available for greening up an existing building. It provides cost data, along with potential savings, in a way that makes assessing a project easy. With many alternatives to choose from, it allows for a high level comparison of project options. The variety of projects included ensures that information is available for any potential improvement.