Tips on Green Products

There are a variety of ways to contribute to making your home and your flooring solution more environmental friendly. The more savvy you can be about the products and services you use, the better! Below are several effective tips for you to consider when making decisions about your home, and going green:

Avoid ozone-depleting chemicals in mechanical equipment and insulation.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) have largely been phased out. The primary replacement, Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC's), while reducing the damage done still harms the ozone layer and should be avoided where possible. Reclaim CFC's when servicing or disposing of equipment and, if possible, take CFC based foam insulation to a recycler who can capture CFC's.

Use durable products and materials.

Because manufacturing is very energy-intensive, a product that lasts longer or requires less maintenance usually saves energy. Durable products also contribute less to our solid waste problems.

Choose low-maintenance building materials.

Where possible, select building materials that will require little maintenance (painting, re-treatment, waterproofing, etc.), or materials whose maintenance will have minimal environmental impact.

Select building materials with low embodied energy.

One estimate of the relative energy intensity of various materials (by weight) is as follows:
Lumber = 1, Brick = 2, Cement = 2, Glass = 3, Fiberglass = 7, Steel = 8, Plastic = 30, Aluminum = 80
Source: Building and Environment vol. 17 no. 1

Buy locally produced building materials.

Transportation is costly in both energy use, and pollution generation. Look for locally produced materials to replace products imported to your area.

Use building products made from recycled materials.

Reduce landfill pressure and save natural resources by using salvaged materials: lumber, millwork, certain plumbing fixtures, and hardware, for example. Make sure these materials are safe, and don't sacrifice energy efficiency, or water efficiency, by reusing old windows or toilets.

Seek responsible wood supplies.

Use lumber from independently certified well-managed forests. Avoid lumber products produced from old growth timber when acceptable alternatives exist. For example, engineered wood can be substituted for old growth Douglas fir. Try to avoid purchasing tropical hardwoods unless the seller can document that the wood comes from well managed forests.

Minimize use of pressure-treated lumber.

Use detailing that will prevent soil contact and rot. Where possible use alternatives such as recycled plastic lumber. Take measure to protect workers when cutting and handling pressure treated wood, and never burn scraps.

Minimize packaging waste.

Avoid excessive packaging, such as plastic-wrapped plumbing fixtures or fasteners that aren't available in bulk. Tell your supplier why you are avoiding over-packaged products. Keep in mind, however, that some products must be carefully packaged to prevent damage and resulting waste.