Questions to ask
Real life examples
- Where does the product come from?
- Does it deplete the environment during production and transportation?
- Is it a renewable resource or not?
- What chemicals does it contain or not contain?
- How does it affect human health and the environment during and after production and installation?
- What is the environmental impact on a building's operation?
- and so on.
Answering these questions may not be as easy as it seems. Here are a few real life examples:
Example #1: A product may be natural and renewable, yet comes from an underdeveloped nation where work conditions are unhealthy, production is inefficient or wastes energy, and transportation methods deplete the environment. Can we consider it 'green'?
Example #2: A product is considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or may have a 'green' label, yet it contains known toxins and causes headaches to certain occupants. How 'green' is that?
Example #3: A toxic product may be used in a manner that is 'green'.
The bottom line
Obviously, there's much debate about this topic. Even so, it is generally agreed that using 'green' building materials will:
- Improve the health of the occupants
- Protect our natural ecosystems and resources
- Reduce energy consumption
According to a 1984 World Health Org. report, up to 30% of new and remodeled buildings worldwide are the subject of excessive complaints related to indoor air quality. Sick Building syndrome, as defined by the EPA, is a term coined to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified.
The major causes of these problems can be solved through adequate ventilation, removal of chemical contaminants from indoor and outdoor sources, removal of biological contaminants, and removal of other irritating pollutants. There are some excellent books on this subject as well as many good websites.
Below is a short list of products that we sell and why they are considered "green".
1. Products made from natural materials that are renewable resources:
Bamboo flooring, Cork flooring, Natural Linoleum, Natural Stone, Solid Wood Cabinetry, Furniture, and Doors, Clay and Copper roofing tile.
2. Products that do not contain pollutants:
Non-toxic solvent-free paints, primers, sealers, stains, oil and polyurethane finishes, adhesives.
3. Products that reduce environmental impacts during construction, renovation, or demolition:
Formaldehyde sealers for wood products and carpeting.
4. Products that reduce environmental impacts of building operation:
Energy efficient windows, skylights, solar attic fans, energy efficient appliances and lighting, radiant in-floor heating, insulating window coverings, and cotton insulation.
5. Products that contribute to a safe, healthy indoor environment:
Non-toxic cleaners, sealers, adhesives, full spectrum lighting, cotton insulation, solar attic fans, all wood cabinetry and doors, and natural flooring.
Copyright © 2004-2011 Joel Hirshberg All rights reserved.