Green building requires a multi-faceted approach. If builders focus primarily on installing green products, including finishes, appliances, and building components, they may miss the point. While green products are important to constructing a green home, they shouldn’t be the only consideration. The benefits of green building – energy efficiency, water efficiency, durability, healthy indoor air -are achieved through effective design, construction, and installation, in addition to materials.
In keeping with the many facets of green building, several attributes can be ascribed to green products. In general, green products have less impact on the environment and on the health of people exposed to them. More specifically, they may derive from recycled or salvaged materials, renewable resources, or responsibly managed forests. They may be manufactured through processes that produce less pollution. Once installed, they may reduce water and energy usage and emit fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which can affect occupant health.
One question on the minds of some builders is whether environmental and health attributes come at the expense of performance. Can low-flow showerheads provide as strong a spray as conventional showerheads? Can no VOC paint resist wear and tear? Improved technologies have enabled manufacturers to produce green products that not only meet performance expectations, but exceed them. The list of products below have been recognized in the building industry for performance attributes and for contributing to improved energy efficiency, water efficiency, durability, and indoor air quality.
Hallowell International Acadia Combined Heating and Cooling System
Hallowell International’s Acadia heating and cooling system won ASHRAE’s Innovation Award for Heating. The Acadia is a “boosted” air-source heat pump that extracts heat from outdoor air and distributes it through ductwork, much like conventional heat pumps. What sets the Acadia apart is its wide operating range of 0°F to 62°F. The Acadia’s coefficient of performance (C.O.P.) is 2.0 to 4.1. While heat pumps have traditionally offered an energy-efficient alternative to standard HVAC systems, they’ve fared poorly in cold climates, where supplemental heating (usually electric resistance heat) must be used as back-up when temperatures drop below the balance point temperature. Not only does the Acadia operate in lower outside air temperatures, it defrosts 82% less than a typical heat pump, which saves additional energy.
Arch Wood Protection, Inc. FrameGuard Wood
FrameGuard mold-resistant indoor wood won the NAHB Green Building Award for Green Product Marketing of the Year. It was the only green product honored at the 2007 NAHB Green Building Conference. Arch Wood Protection, Inc. developed the safe coating with three fungicides and a borate compound?the same fungicides used in some cereals, coffee, and lotions, and the same borates used in some hand soaps and cosmetics. The FrameGuard coating is applied to interior wood, including trusses, OSB, and plywood to inhibit termites, mold growth, and fungal decay. It’s been certified as a “low-emitting product” by GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI). Besides having lower emissions, FrameGuard wood is durable and grown on responsibly managed timberlands, all qualities that make it a green product.
PPG Pure Performance Paint
Interior paint has traditionally been notorious for affecting indoor air quality. Some paints contain heavy metals, formaldehyde, and ethylene glycol, which are added as pigments, drying agents, or fungicides. Paints also contain solvents, which allow paint to evaporate to a solid film after it’s applied to a surface. The solvents often contain VOCs, which can pose health risks to painters and homeowners who breathe the fumes.
Several manufacturers now offer low or no VOC paint. One of these manufacturers, Pittsburgh Paints, offers Pure Performance interior paint, the first paint to receive the Green Seal Class A rating for no VOC paints. The resins in Pure Performance are formulated to be compatible with no VOC coalescent agents, whereas many other latex paint resins are combined with coalescent agents that are considered to be VOCs. Pure Performance paint is therefore low odor. It also contains a mold and mildew resistant additive for durability.
American Standard FloWise Toilet
American Standard’s FloWise toilet was among the first to receive the EPA’s WaterSense(TM) label for water efficiency. This high efficiency toilet (HET) uses 1.28 gallons per flush, or 20% less than conventional toilets, which are required by law not to exceed 1.6 gallons per flush. The FloWise toilet uses a forceful flush instead of a high volume of water to clean the bowl. Their funnel-shaped piston-action Accelerator(TM) Flush Valve forces water into the bowl in less than a second.
Canadian builders going green, read the headline, and it got me thinking about the cost of not just building ‘green’, but of converting to green in our existing homes. Being able to list your house as a ‘green’ home must still be a novelty these days. One reason is that it can be expensive to switch to green, but there are reasonable contributions that the average family can easily make toward green living.
Of course, people go green for different reasons; for some of them it is just a common sense solution to allergies suffered in the family. But why do other people choose to put themselves through this hassle. It is not money, we know that much; going green usually costs more, not less.
Many people seem to object to the idea that their home contains more chemicals than homes used to. What is more, we are paying for that privilege! It is strange to think that Vinyl linoleum gives off toxic gasses, but it is a fact. True linoleum does not, although it can be more difficult to find. (It is often a fact that the newer replacement product also brought with it toxicity.)
Another way of helping the environment is to follow your municipalities outline for re-cycling. Private re-cycle depots in your area will often pick up where the government leaves off. The trick is to get it organized at the home base with different containers that are easily accessed.
When you decorate the home, if you want to think green, use paint that has either no, or low, VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds). Also if you plan on re-sealing sealing wood doors or floors etc, latex has no pollution factor to worry about.
If you decide to remodel, you will find many appliances on the market that will help you to go green. Most appliance companies now offer at least one green choice. Both washing machines and dish washers offer cycles which operate with less water. There are also toilets with the same feature, and all of these options will give you cheaper bills to pay, both on hydro and on water consumption.
If your remodeling or green choices are extending into your kitchen then when choosing a new stove or other kitchen appliance, look for the Energy Star rating. Many of these appliances are designed with a healthy environment in mind, and the stainless steel look of them will bring your kitchen up to the minute!