Though automobiles have become more environmentally-friendly, their traditional home – the garage – remains a warehouse of pollutants, according to the experts at EGOPowerPlus.com. Whether your garage is attached or detached, you can green your garage in as little as nine steps. Here’s how to get started.
1. If your garage lacks finished walls, lose the half-finished look by insulating and finishing them out. Use biodegradable, low or no-VOC caulks and non-shrinking, flexible adhesives to close gaps. Add a well-insulated garage door with R-values between 13 and 17.5 percent.
2. Clean walls and the floor with eco-friendly cleaners, such as those that are vinegar-based, to remove grime.
3. Set the alarm. Be sure your garage has both fire and CO detectors installed. If battery-powered, check regularly to ensure they are working.
4. If your garage is not included in your home HVAC system, explore solar-powered heating and cooling. At the very least, install an exhaust fan to circulate air more efficiently and get rid of dangerous fumes.
5. Replace traditional bulbs with energy-efficient LED lighting or CFLs. Install task lighting to reduce costs and still see what you’re doing.
6. Install skylights if possible. Natural light reduces energy and brightens the feel of the garage.
7. Add a rain barrel just outside the garage, direct rain runoff and use the water for lawn and garden, car washing and other common uses (except drinking).
8. Half-full cans of paint or cans of oil are toxic. Check with your city to find approved disposal sites. For paints and chemicals you need to hold on to, store in a secure cabinet if possible (except for gasoline). If nothing else, place plastic wrap over the open top, pound the lid on with a hammer, and then store the can upside down to secure fumes.
9. Battery-assisted car engines are becoming more common, but if your car is gas-powered, you can manage pollutants with regular inspections and repairs. Leaking fluids such as oil, gas, brake fluid and anti-freeze flow into sewers and eventually into public water sources.