PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Whether it’s recycling bottles or carpooling to work, millions of Americans take part in eco-friendly activities every day. But how can you carry that over when building or renovating your home?

Dave Brown and his wife, Jane, are loving retirement in their dream home, which was born a barn before being converted to this beautiful space using Leadership in Energy and Environment Design specifications. The internationally known LEED program recognizes sustainable building practices.

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“We’d also become, over the years, more concerned about climate change and about use of energy both from an economic point of view and an environmental point of view,” Jane Covery said.

The couple worked with Peter Taggart who specializes in LEED-accredited home building. He says building green requires a long-term perspective.

“We really try to encourage our customers to look at, for instance, spending a little bit more on a window or more efficiency on a heating system and then looking at a payback for that,” Taggart said.

“Building an energy efficient or environmentally friendly home is going to cost you more up front, but you need a long-term perspective because it’s going to save you money on your monthly energy bills throughout your time in the home,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks said.

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The U.S. Green Building Council expects the residential green construction market to top 100-million dollars by 2018. Taggart says building green can be done on a budget with good planning that takes advantage of natural energy.

“We’ve got south-facing windows that you see behind me that help with passive solar energy, and it really does… in the winter, we get a lot of warmth through those windows,” Jane Covey said.

Other green features of their home include dense-packed cellulose insulation, solar hot water, an on-demand water heater, radiant heat flooring and lots of recycled wood from the original construction. These features could increase the home’s resale value, but Dave and Jane expect to stay put.

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If you’re considering going green but can’t afford a whole-house conversion, Angie recommends making improvements in stages. A reputable builder who shares your eco-friendly position should be happy to work within your time-frame and budget.