Embracing Sustainable Luxury: Four Ways High-End Restoration is Going Green


Luxury and sustainability are two words that you don’t often see together. Luxury can imply excess, and sustainability can imply restraint. 

But those implications aren’t always accurate especially when it comes to high-end restoration. New technologies and techniques in the industry are emerging and evolving every day. As a result, it’s possible for cleaning and restoration professionals and their clients to restore elegant properties to their original splendor, all without consuming excessive energy or resources. Here are four ways that high-end restoration is going green. 

Retaining a building’s original features. Older buildings in need of restoration are known for their antique character and charm: bespoke millwork, parquet flooring, brass hardware, and more. In the past, when these features were worn down by age or by a disaster like a flood or fire, cleaning and restoration professionals would often replace them rather than retaining them. This required the use of all new materials, not to mention the time and energy of producing, transporting, and installing those materials. Fortunately, developments in the industry now allow professionals to retain those features. Worn down, water stained, or soot covered surfaces can be made new with cutting-edge technology like laser cleaning, which uses focused lasers to blast away patinas and other marks. As a result, no new materials are needed and clients truly get to experience the original character and charm. 

Installing green energy systems. Older properties are beautiful, but their heating and cooling systems are usually anything but. Many older high-end properties rely on oil and gas and a select few even rely on coal to produce energy. Fortunately, restoration provides an opportunity to swap in a much cleaner and more efficient form of energy. Cleaning and restoration professionals and their clients are increasingly choosing green alternatives, like solar panels and heat pumps. In addition to producing less of a footprint, these systems can also add to a property’s aesthetic. They are less obtrusive than bulky oil tanks and boilers. Similarly, newer developments in lighting like LED can replace incandescent light fixtures, making the property even more energy efficient. And when a property is stripped down to its studs, cleaning and restoration professionals can install new thermal insulation, helping preserve heat in the colder months. 

Choosing eco-friendly paints. More and more luxury property owners are opting to use eco-friendly paints in their restoration projects. These are a welcome alternative to older exterior and interior paints, which often have an oil base that is harmful to people and the environment alike. This new generation of paint is based on natural compounds like clay and balsam, which means they’re nontoxic, safe to be around, and are even biodegradable. Eco-friendly paints first emerged in the 1990s and have been growing in popularity ever since. They’ve also been growing in effectiveness: new manufacturing techniques mean they are becoming more durable and greener. 

Building with natural materials. For many years, synthetic materials were the go-to in the cleaning and restoration trade, even for high-end projects. These plastics may be cheaper, but the energy and resources required to produce them take a toll on the environment, not to mention how long they can sit in landfill. Fortunately, high-end projects are increasingly returning to natural materials like pine, oak, field stone, and clay. In addition to giving a property a more upscale feel, these materials are largely renewable, reusable, biodegradable, and don’t require as much energy to produce. Natural materials also tend to be more durable, meaning they require less maintenance and fewer replacements over the long run. 

In the cleaning and restoration industry, luxury and sustainability aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s often just the opposite. Professionals should take care to prioritize trends that both satisfy clients with high-end properties and help the environment. 

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Ron Fanish

Ron Fanish is co-owner of Rainbow International Restoration of Westchester, a full-service, one-stop-shop for restoration, cleaning, and reconstruction based in Westchester County, NY. For more information, visit www.RBWWestchester.com.

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