Can Salvaged Materials Meet Green Building Requirements?

Many of us have a passion for sustainable design. However, it comes as no surprise that salvaged materials from 100+ years ago may not exactly fit with current green building standards. Is there a way to marry your passion for sustainability and the quality of reused materials? Let’s discuss: 


There are certainly some restrictions on using salvage to meet energy efficiency standards. For instance, an old craftsman front door with its original beveled glass won’t initially be up to code. However, we salvage a lot of newer homes (or recently updated homes) where we remove thermal pane door systems and newer vinyl windows. We also get misorders and overorders of doors and windows from new construction which almost always have all of the stickers to show how energy efficient they are.  

If you’re looking to retrofit your single-pane wood windows, there is a way, but it takes work. You can use PVC or acrylic laminate as double-glazing and apply it to the glass. Here’s some information to get you started. 


With regards to lighting, other than the very old cloth wire lights, many of our lights have the UL sticker on them. You can also get vintage lighting rewired by a professional to meet your requirements. Depending on the light, you can also rewire it yourself with light kits. It’s often a great way to add a ton of character for the same or less cost than going with a new light. 


Even if getting salvaged doors and windows to complete a project becomes too much of a headache, there are many character adding materials like a great old-growth mantel or a wood accent wall. Interior vintage French door sets don’t need to abide by any code and add a lot of style and character. Maybe a cute, old craftsman front door could be the door to the pantry or a vintage built-in hutch could become the bar in the bonus room or even integrated into the kitchen.  

Sometimes it takes a little more imagination and elbow grease to repurpose salvaged materials. Even just a few salvaged pieces can turn a sterile, modern design into a warm space someone would love to call home.

Want to learn more about what makes a house more sustainable? Here’s some info on what makes a building green. 

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