Eco-renovate is a term a business friend coined while doing a project on a historical building in Chicago, Illinois.
We all have the opportunity to up-level our home, a home we are buying, or homes we are selling. There is so much we can do to improve our health and that of the world while we make our homes a whole lot better!
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! I’m thrilled to have Sheridan Foster joining me today to talk about the cool eco-renovation project she and her team did in the historic Chicago building!
Starting EcoRenovate was a big deal for Elemental Green because it was the first renovation they ever took on from start to finish. It involved a lot of learning and many interesting insights. It allowed them to expand their focus and look beyond the materials used for the building and the furnishings they brought in.
The historical Chicago building
The striking historic modernist building is near the Chicago University campus in the Hyde Park neighborhood. I.M. Pei and Araldo Cossutta designed it, and it was built in 1961. It was built as apartments and is now condominiums. The building has curtain walls and big, beautiful windows with delicate arches. It has been registered on the national register of historic places.
During Covid, Sheridan saw an opportunity to renovate one of the top-floor corner units in the building. So she decided to jump in with EcoRenovate and see what she could do with the space.
Staying true to the design
Sheridan wanted to stay true to the original design. So she and her team decided to keep existing architectural elements and update and modernize the condominium.
They decided to start with the tiny, closed-off kitchen and tie it in with the rest of the condo. They took down part of two of the walls to connect the kitchen with the main living area.
The bathroom still had all the original quirky and charming fixtures. They had to change the wall tiles because they were plain and not very nice. But the floor tiles were lovely, so they retained them.
Color affects our moods and energy levels, so Sheridan and her team deliberately added pops of color to the space. The view of Lake Michigan inspired them, so they brought lots of blue into the interior space.
Eco-friendly building practices
To ensure they were not compromising the eco-friendly building practices, they judged everything they brought in, from building materials to furnishings, against the standards of what makes a good and sustainable product.
Mindful and eco-friendly building practices
Refusing to compromise enabled them to identify some great companies to work with that used eco-friendly products, treated their employees fairly, and used mindful and eco-friendly building practices.
They evaluated everything they did against the concept of circularity and focused on assessing the impact of all the materials used to ensure that they were making things better rather than worse for the planet.
Making the connection
People are starting to make the connection between their personal health and the health of the world at large.
Sheridan repainted everything in the condo using paint from a company called Recolor. Recolor is a woman-led company looking to solve the problem of waste paint because paint is toxic, so it cannot get thrown away in the garbage. Recolor filters and reprocesses leftover paint so that it can be reused. As a result of the reprocessing, Recolor’s paint is lower in VOCs than regular paint. It is available from Amazon or through Habitat for Humanity stores in a range of colors.
Sheridan’s favorite part
The part of the renovation Sheridan enjoyed most was re-doing the kitchen with hand-made and hand-painted tiles from Fireclay Tile! They also put in bamboo plywood fronted cabinets and a large island workspace.
To improve indoor air quality, they put filters over all the vents. They also put Molekule air filters in all the rooms. (The Molekule is not just a filter. It uses electricity to destroy unwanted air particles.)
Taking on a renovation
Taking on a renovation may seem overwhelming, but it will feel great once you have accomplished your goal! Sheridan points out that it is vital to keep your goals for the project in mind when looking for the right products.
Have a great green day!
Links and resources: