First, simply being aware that virtually everything you consume, from toilet paper to 2x4s, has some sort of environmental impact will go a long way toward helping you green up your project. If you hold this idea in the back of your mind as you undertake the project, you will be able to make more sensitive choices regarding products and materials. As mentioned above, careful early planning and a systems approach to the design process are essential. A popular example of this is the concept that in following efficient lighting design and natural daylighting principles, you can reduce the heat load on the building created by lighting devices. This enables you to downsize your cooling systems, resulting in savings and reduced impact both from the equipment and the energy required to operate them. Employing an environmentally-aware contractor will also go a long way toward getting you started on the right foot, and will minimize the risk of conflicts regarding the selection of materials and methods, since many contractors have very specific notions regarding the materials they want to use. Next, it may be useful to break the project down into major impact categories, such as materials, energy use, indoor air quality (both during and after the construction process), water consumption and construction waste.