Green Building: Suitable Materials For Use At Home

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Many of us are not used to the idea of seeing large buildings or 4 to 6-bedroom homes, as vast, energy-hungry structures.

However, they are, and in the US today, these buildings account for around 65% of total electricity consumption, 36% of total energy use as well as 30% of greenhouse-gas emissions. Many view that making these structures more energy-efficient should create a significant impact on energy policy, greenhouse gas emissions, and sustainable development. Among the major goals of green building movement are changing the way buildings, and homes as well, are designed, built,operated and maintained.

Utilizing Engineered Wood Products For Homes

The use of engineered wood products, or EWP’s, which include plywood, composite wood paneling, laminated veneer lumber and many structural products like I-joists and trusses, have both environmental and structural advantages as compared to using solid wood.

These materials, which are generally composed of wood chips and adhesive, can be made from scrap or recycled wood material, which helps to considerably lower the demand for more, which is a major factor in the loss of forest cover. EWPs are generally considered to be stronger than solid wood, and have fewer compositional variations, which make the more stable and less prone to warping as well. Buyers of wood are advised to be on the lookout for uncertified, imported products made from whole trees, as well as those that use urea, phenol or melamine-formaldehyde resins.

Use Insulation That's Composed of More Recycled Materials

Utilizing cotton insulation that is manufactured from recycled denim scrap makes for an efficient insulator, and would have no impact on indoor air quality and will only cause negligible levels of pollution during the manufacturing process. Wool insulation materials are generally more resistant to fire but can attract harmful insects, so the wool should be treated with boron, which is seen as much healthier alternative to brominated flame retardants that are dangerous because it accumulate in our bodies.

The loose fibers in fiberglass insulation however can pose a breathing hazard, but can be found without formaldehyde resin binders. For those who prefer using the insulating qualities of polyurethane foam materials, but wish to reduce their dependence on petroleum products, using soy foam insulation has been made widely available to new home builders for some time already, and these can be used in existing homes as well.

Using Bamboo and Reclaimed Materials For Flooring

It’s advisable also for builders and home owners to use bamboo as the main material for flooring purposes. Bamboo is a grass that is rapidly renewable and durable, and there are plenty of bamboo species that quickly grow to maturity in three to six years, whereas hardwoods like maple and oak take 50 years or more. Bamboo flooring is also harder than most hardwood flooring, and the darker variety, which has been boiled longer, also has a softer feel.

Whether you're building a new home, renovating one, expanding one of your rooms, or building some cabinets or extra shelves, there are a host of products and materials, which are environment-friendly and more cost-effective, that you can discuss with your develpoer or private contractor, or even pick up on your own.

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Denise Allen
Resh Realty Group - Chesapeake, VA
Realtor@ Chesapeake, Hampton Roads
All sounds good.  My builder isn't quite there yet.  I am still trying to get CFL lites in.
Apr 14, 2008 08:22 AM #1
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.
Many good ideas...Except the Bamboo.  Not grown here locally, except for the fact it grows back about the thousands of gallons of fuel for the slow boat to burn getting it here???  Not all "Green" products are turning out to be "Green" when you look at the whole story.
Apr 14, 2008 08:29 AM #2
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