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Green is the Color of Money

Kermit the Frog
Kermit the Frog

Since we're all talking about "keeping America great" today on CNBC, I think we should start at the heart, and by that I mean in the bathroom -- okay, the kitchen; I mean at home. Americans will spend nearly $233 billion on home remodeling this year, according to a press release I got yesterday from the National Association of Home Builders. A key driver in this trend is green remodeling.

Check out the NY Times House & Home section today; check

Energy Star
AP
Energy Star

out the cover of this month's "Remodeling Today;" check out the paint section of your local hardware store. Green products, green tips, green promotions, and it isn't all about energy-efficient windows and Energy Star appliances.

Your home is one of the biggest environmental offenders on the planet; no wonder home greening has grown to a 40 billion dollar industry in the U.S. -- and we lag behind Europe! Energy costs are forcing Americans to take another look at their homes and zero in on what's leaking, what's wasting and what's just plain inefficient. Builders estimate 10% of all new homes will be "green" by the end of this decade.

But here's the problem: not all builders have caught up. A tidbit in the NY Times today tells of a consulting partnership in Plainfield, NJ called Frankly Green, which will help you find experienced contractors who really get green. They also sell paint.

The National Association of Home Builders also has lots of great information on going green at home, although it's a little hard to find. There's also a checklist in this month's Remodeling Magazine (I know, I should be reading Elle, right??) that I'll steal for you:

FIVE KEY CONCEPTS OF GREEN REMODELING:

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Resource Efficiency Use and Durability (that's the old fridge you run in the garage)
  • Site Management and Use (that's trees and stuff and how your house is situated)
  • Water Consumption

It's all about the carbon footprint -- and not just what's behind the front door, but the entire process of getting the front door in the frame. It's how you manufacture and transport building materials, dispose of construction waste, the tools your builder uses to build/remodel your home. I could go on, but I don't want to get Gore-ish.

Go home tonight and take a look around it. This is your biggest investment, and you're more than likely wasting money every minute you're standing there looking. With summer nearly upon us, and brownouts looming in the outlet that's powering your plasma, consider the following: you all may not care about the planet, but I know you care about your wallets. Make it about that.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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