Checklist for Planning a Healthy, Energy-Efficient Renovation

Renovation offers many opportunities to make a home healthier and more energy-efficient and to improve its overall comfort. The time to consider these options is during the planning process, before buying materials or starting work.

This checklist presents the most common Healthy Housingâ„¢ and energy-efficient approaches and features. If you are a homeowner, go over the list with your renovator. If you are a contractor, use it to present options to your customers. Additional information sources are listed on the back cover of this publication.

Pre-Renovation Inspection

Goals: Determine the condition of the home and what needs doing, and setting priorities.

  • Homeowner inspection
  • Renovator inspection
  • Building inspection by certified home inspector
  • Energy assessment
  • Environmental assessment
  • Equipment inspection: heating, cooling, ventilation, hot water, etc.
  • Electrical/fire inspection


Goals: Save water and energy. Improve air quality. Think recycling.

  • Restricted-flow taps (aerator)
  • Energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • Task lighting
  • Low-maintenance, durable flooring (tile, linoleum, hardwood, ceramic)
  • Low-emission cabinets (hardwood, sealed particle board)
  • Low-emission countertop (solid surface, laminates)
  • Low- or no-VOC paints
  • Low-emission cements, grouts and caulking
  • Range hood vented to the outside
  • Area/whole-house ventilation
  • Built-in recycling centre


Goals: Save water. Control moisture and air quality. Be resource-efficient. Save energy.

  • Low-flow toilet, showerhead and faucets
  • Low-maintenance, durable, non-slip flooring (tile, linoleum)
  • Low-emission cabinets (hardwood, sealed particle board)
  • Low-emission countertop (solid surface, laminates)
  • Waterproof wall finish
  • Low- or no-VOC paints
  • Low-emission cements, grouts and caulking
  • Energy-efficient windows and skylights
  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • High-efficiency exhaust fans
  • Protection against scalding
  • Safety and accessibility features (grab bars)

Living, Dining and Bedroom Areas

Goals: Save energy. Improve the air quality and reduce dust. Be resource-efficient. Think low maintenance. Increase comfort.

  • Energy-efficient windows and exterior doors
  • Programmable thermostats
  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • Area lighting
  • Automatic timers and dimmer switches
  • Low-emission, easy-maintenance flooring (hardwood, cork, marble, ceramic)
  • Carpeting and area rugs from natural or recycled material
  • Low-emission trim and mouldings
  • Low-emission solid wood doors
  • Low- or no-VOC paints and varnishes
  • Low-emission cements, grouts and caulking
  • Low-emission furniture and drapery (hardwood frames, natural fabrics)

Making the Right Choice is Sometimes a Matter of Trade-Offs.

For instance, smooth flooring is easier to keep clean than carpeting and less prone to harbouring mold and dust. However, each type of flooring offers a different mix of benefits and drawbacks. Pre-finished hardwood has low offgassing, but a higher price. Cork, at a comparable cost, is harvested from a fast-growing renewable resource, but is still relatively unknown. Synthetic flooring may release more chemicals into the air, but is easier to clean and wears well.


Goals: Control moisture and air quality. Eliminate mold. Save energy. Think comfort if basement is living space.

  • Determine and deal with sources of mold (repair, replacement, etc.)
  • Mold treatment with warm water and detergent
  • Air and moisture sealing of walls
  • Moisture and soil gas sealing of floors
  • Upgraded insulation
  • Ventilation
  • Reduce concrete floor dust with water-based wax sealer
  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • Natural light with high-performance windows
  • Low-emission finishing materials

Mechanical Room or Area

Goals: Save energy. Control air quality. Minimize water contaminants.

  • Energy-efficient, sealed-combustion and correctly sized heating equipment
  • Energy-efficient hot water tank
  • Energy-efficient furnace fan motor
  • Separate, direct air supply for equipment
  • Insulated hot water pipes q Non-lead pipes
  • Air filtration and humidification/dehumidification
  • Whole-house ventilation system (heat recovery ventilator)
  • Effective, balanced, sealed ductwork or distribution system
  • Water purification system
  • Central vacuum exhausted outdoors


Goals: Save energy and increase the comfort of the whole house.

  • Upgraded insulation
  • Air sealing and vapour barrier
  • Weather stripping and insulating attic hatch
  • Ventilation

The Structure, or What You Do Not See

Goals: Save energy. Prevent moisture infiltration. Improve air quality. Increase comfort. Be resource-efficient. Reduce noise and dust.

  • Insulation (recycled content)
  • Air sealing (windows, doors, electrical outlets)
  • Vapour barrier
  • Framing, sheathing, underlay: low-emission, resource-efficient
  • Drywall with recycled content

The Exterior

Goals: Reduce maintenance and replacements. Reduce moisture problems.

  • Low-maintenance, durable exterior finishes
  • Low-maintenance trim, soffits and fascia
  • Air and moisture sealing
  • Long-lasting roofing
  • Eavestroughing
  • Drainage away from the foundation
  • Chimney flashing (no leaking)
  • Properly located air intakes and exhausts for systems and appliances
  • Effective lighting for safety
  • Roof overhang for shading
  • Ice dam prevention


Goals: Conserve water. Reduce use of chemicals. Enjoy low maintenance.

  • Drought-resistant native plants (xeriscaping)
  • Reduced lawn area (less water and fertilizer)
  • Cistern or rain collection system
  • Composter for organic wastes
  • Organic garden
  • Trees for windbreak and shade

Ken H Huang


Re/Max Realtron Realty Inc., Brokerage

Right Choice = Better Life

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