Green Remodeling

Heartwood Construction takes the responsibility for creating a healthier environment – inside and outside your home – very seriously.

The bulk of our green remodeling practices fit into five categories:

  • Recycling
  • The use of green products
  • Energy evaluations
  • Insulating, ventilating, air sealing and indoor air quality
  • Passive solar design.

We strive to incorporate green building practices on every remodel. We are continuously learning more about green building and applying new principles and products with every opportunity.


Nationally, home remodeling creates 136 million tons of waste a year – about 20% of the total landfill waste in America. The fact is, 85% to 90% of remodeling waste is recyclable. Materials like clean lumber; drywall, cardboard, metals, plastic; some cabinets; doors and windows; carpet; sinks, tubs and toilets; concrete, bricks and asphalt and asphalt shingles – all can be recycled.

A City of Madison recycling ordinance for contractors, effective January 1, 2010, requires all contractors to recycle cardboard, clean drywall, clean lumber, asphalt shingles and all metals. These items can be placed in a mixed dumpster, and the recyclable material is sorted out by the dumpster company.

At Heartwood Construction, we take green building seriously. We don’t limit our recycling to these mandated recyclable materials. We recycle plastics, which are then used to make a variety of goods. Concrete and bricks (if not reused) are crushed and used for substrate for roads or construction. Asphalt is also crushed and used to pave gravel driveways. Often cabinets, doors and windows, sinks, tubs and toilets can be donated to the Habitat for Humanity Restore or DeConstruction in Madison for resale. If they won’t take them, we have had some luck with these items disappearing when left on the curb. All of the carpet and carpet pad we remove from a home during remodeling gets shipped off to a reclamation center, where the usable fibers are separated and reused.

In our remodeling and renovation projects, we encourage the use and reuse of recycled materials. This could mean uncovering, patching, sanding and finishing an original hardwood floor. Or using Trex decking and deck rails, which are made out of 50% recycled plastic bags and 50% re-claimed wood. Or re-milling, finishing and reusing interior trim. There are many opportunities to use or reuse recycled materials in renovating your home.


For the majority of our lumber needs – framing lumber, treated lumber, beams, plywood, and hardwood trim and floors – Heartwood Construction uses lumber from mills that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC was founded in 1993 and certifies that trees from forests have been harvested legally, not clear cut, and with care to preserve the forests’ ecosystem, natural animal life, soil and water, and the rights of indigenous peoples and workers. For more information, visit

There are countless green building products – from wool carpets to no-V.O.C. paints and finishes – that we will suggest using during the design process to help keep your home remodeling as green as you want it.

We will recommend high-efficiency furnaces and water heaters, as well as active solar applications, if appropriate.


We offer our customers home energy evaluations to complement our remodels. An energy evaluation consists of a pre-test to locate all leaks, insulation voids and ventilation issues before the remodel, and a post-test to check the home’s energy performance and indoor air quality after the remodel. The pre-test comes with a written report, so any issues are documented and can be addressed during the remodeling. The energy evaluations are conducted by consultants for Home Performance with Energy Star who specialize in home energy evaluations and home performance. These evaluations and the subsequent work will make your house more comfortable, energy efficient and safe.


Insulating.  Some of this work is detailed in the energy evaluations, and some of it we do as part of our energy-conscious remodeling routine. For example, we will recommend advanced air-sealing techniques using spray foam insulation to seal up any holes and cracks that leak air. We will also recommend using either spray foam insulation, fiberglass BIB (Blown-In Blanket) systems or dense pack cellulose for insulating the walls and ceiling. In addition, during the framing phase of your remodeling project, we pay careful attention to sealing any joints between the walls and the floor, exterior corners, and between the walls and the ceiling.

Ventilating.  In today’s tightly insulated, energy-efficient homes, ventilating has become critical to maintaining indoor air quality and the longevity of your roof system.  Part of the energy evaluation will test your furnace and water heater to make sure they are venting carbon monoxide properly. If any exhaust fans are being installed, we will recommend an efficient, ultra-quiet exhaust fan that also has the capability to run at a lower CFM continuously to ensure that your home’s indoor air is always fresh and healthy.

Air Sealing.  Proper roof ventilation can extend the life of your roof, prevent mold and rot in your attic and, with thorough air sealing, help eliminate ice dams. At Heartwood Construction, we offer ventilating from soffit to roof peak or, if that is not possible, gable end vents to roof peak. In some situations, we will recommend an attic power vent.

Lead-Safe Renovation.  Heartwood Construction is certified with the Wisconsin Department of Health as a Lead-Safe Renovator. As of April 22, 2010, all contractors that disturb more than six square feet on the interior of a home that contains lead-based paint, or more than 20 square feet on the exterior, needs to be certified with the Wisconsin Department of Health as a Lead-Safe Renovator and, by law, needs to handle material painted with lead-based paint using lead-safe practices. Heartwood Construction will thoroughly seal off the remodeling area, handle and dispose of all lead-based paint material safely, and clean up the area, leaving no lead dust behind. This means that during your remodeling, and after we are finished, there will not be a lead hazard in your home.


Our passive solar design consists of orienting windows to take advantage of the sun in the winter, designing roof overhangs and strategically placing deciduous trees for shade from the sun in the summer, and thermal massing to store the sun’s heat in the day and release it at night.

We are constantly learning more about green building and applying new principles and products when we get an opportunity. All said though, we feel we have a pretty good green remodeling program.