By Heather Curless, Owner GREENER STOCK
The term “green building materials” means different things to different people. To many it means constructing or remodeling buildings to be energy efficient by increasing insulation, sealing air leaks, and upgrading mechanical equipment, appliances, and lighting. This is a great first step in creating sustainable buildings. But did you know that many traditional building materials, especially interior finishes, can actually be detrimental to the interior air quality in these new, tightly sealed buildings?
Many traditional building materials contain toxins such as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and urea formaldehyde. These are used in insulation, paints, sealants, laminated wood products, flooring, and cabinetry. The chemicals “off-gas” during their lifespan creating odorous and sometimes hazardous interior environments. People exposed to VOCs and urea formaldehyde may suffer throat and eye irritation, nausea, wheezing, coughing, and other allergic reactions. Those with asthma may be at a greater risk of attacks when exposed. The negative impacts are exacerbated when materials containing these chemicals are combined with a building that has been tightly sealed to reduce its energy consumption. Unlike in older buildings, the gasses emitted from the VOCs and urea formaldehyde have nowhere to escape.
I’m not advocating against making energy efficient upgrades. In fact, the upgrades are imperative. In addition to the efficiency upgrades, there are many interior finish alternatives that are simple and affordable to implement in any new construction or remodeling project. One solution is to incorporate building products and interior finishes that limit the use of these hazardous chemicals. There are many low and no VOC paints and sealants on the market. The finishes perform as well if not better than traditional paints and sealants. The paints can be tinted to match any color. Additionally, when shopping for insulation, furniture, cabinetry, and other laminated wood products, look for products labeled as “No Added Urea Formaldehyde” (NAUF).
These are some of my favorite low VOC/NAUF products:
-UltraTouch Natural Cotton Batt Insulation (www.bondedlogic.com): With this insulation, blue jeans have an afterlife. Its insulating value is equivalent to fiberglass but with no added urea formaldehyde and no skin irritation.
-EarthPaint (www.earthpaint.biz): These paints and sealers are low VOC, non-toxic, and naturally derived. The paint is self-priming even on raw drywall.
-Marmoleum (www.themarmoleumstore.com): Linoleum is making a comeback with Marmoleum. But this isn’t your grandmother’s floor. It comes in a floating floor and glue-down options in a variety of modern colors. Because it is made from all natural materials such as linseed oil, wood flour, and rosin, it is naturally anti-static earning it the Allergy and Asthma Friendly certification mark from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
-Plyboo (www.plyboo.com): Smith and Fong are leaders in the industry offering FSC certified bamboo flooring and plywood.
-Kirei (www.kireiusa.com): These are some of the most interesting agri-fiber products I have seen ranging from sheet materials made from sorghum straw (sugarcane) to wall tiles made from coconut shells!
-Torzo Surfaces (www.torzosurfaces.com): If you are not satisfied with Kirei board on your walls, now you can use it as a counter top. Torzo creates durable surfaces out of mundane items such as OSB, MDF, wheatboard, sunflower seed board, and Kirei board. A must see!
Many thanks to Heather for the information – visit Greenerstock’s website for store and product information, www.greenerstock.com
Check out the latest from USA today:
Just what we’ve been waiting to hear! Jami and I have been trying to get the attention of area appraisers in this regard – the industry’s understanding of the value of energy efficiency, indoor air quality and environmentally responsible building materials has been dragging well behind consumer interest.
We’ll say it again – green, that over-used and much-abused word, is here to stay. Let us know what you think, and we’ll keep you posted on great examples of Return on Investment scenarios for eco-upgrades adding value in the local housing market.
On another note… our new website will be up and running very soon! Keep a lookout…
Maybe a new catchphrase in the making? Stealthy Green – environmentalism that blends into the vernacular of a particular neighborhood without screaming “I’m different, look at me!” Walking past this ranch home nestled in the hills of Delhi Township, the native-species landscaping might catch your eye (well, okay, so it’s winter… things are a little brown, but it has gorgeous perennials. Check out the springtime photos on the link below), but its modern-era brick exterior otherwise blends into the architectural flow of the neighborhood. Behind the thoughtful landscaping and inviting front porch, however, are environmentally minded updates extending way beyond what meets the eye.
The owners have taken great steps to make it as efficient as possible in their years of ownership, adding a 165-gallon rainwater catchment system with a controlled overflow into an elevated rain garden in back , offering easy access to water exterior plants and the yard full of gardens and little grass to maintain. Perennial beds are stocked with native, drought-tolerant species and summertime boasts a varied harvest of organic vegetables.
There are new low-flow water fixtures in the totally renovated full bathroom off the finished lower-level; no-VOC paint, timer-controlled exhaust fan and a new hybrid Bryant HVAC system with Puron and a 5-year warranty. The house boasts updated electric (wired/cabled throughout), outodoor motion sensor lights and CFL’s in every socket.
Other efficient and valuable peace-of-mind updates include full window replacement in 2000 with efficient insulated vinyl windows carrying a lifetime warranty; the roof was installed in 1999 with a 25-year warranty; there are glass block windows in the finished basement – as well as a full-walkout with french doors for added natural light (and no steps to get out to the patio and back yard!). The entire house is very well maintained with an amazing (and I mean amazing) retro kitchen that the right buyers will find very, very cool.
With 3 bedrooms upstairs, a finished walk-out lower level and great outdoor patio space, this house is a fantastic package with surprising spaces, at an amazing price. The owners tell us their energy bills average about $150/month, even running a full-time home office. Call for a tour! Check out the link: 5087 Grosse Pointe Dr.
Economy of scale – what a green concept! Save on a huge array of things with this fast growing, deal-finding web service. The power of buying in bulk, online, saving a ton of $ – and with zero packaging!!!
Here’s how Groupon is making the magic happen (get ready, this may be too simple for some to digest):
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Check out their Cincinnati website: http://www.groupon.com/cincinnati/
You CANNOT miss this one! The Cincinnati Chapter of the US Green Building Council is proud to announce its first annual Green Homes Summit on October 20th, 2009 from noon to 9 p.m. Hosted at the Savannah Center in West Chester, the Residential Green Building Committee chose the site for its proximity to both Dayton and Cincinnati, in addition to Savannah’s commitment to sustainable building and low-waste event planning.
Please visit the AIA Cincinnati website to register for this momentous event, offering 9 seminars (CEU’s available) ranging from introductory topics on green building and energy efficiency to technical presentation of sustainable materials. Following the seminars there will be a large panel discussion including representatives from Metropolitan Sewer District, Cincinnati and Montgomery Planning Departments, the Home Builder’s Association and AIA, addressing current restrictions to green building and plans underway to revise building code and city ordinances to promote sustainable initiatives. The day will be rounded out with the AIA/COTE/CORA annual dinner with keynote speaker John Connell, Architect, Artist, Animator, Author. For more information, contact Libby Hunter at email@example.com or 513-260-9632. Seminar registration and seating at the dinner is limited; the green trade show is free and open to the public noon to 9 p.m. Full image of flier here! Register now – space is filling up fast!!!
Please join us in celebrating the Cincinnati Northside Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation’s latest two success stories, 1422 and 1425 Chase Ave. We will be hosting a Grand Opening with both houses open to the community on Thursday, October 8, 2009 from 5-7 pm.
CNCURC (“Cin-kurk” for you newbies) is making huge strides in their mission to eradicate blighted housing in this area of Northside, improving homeownership rates and raising property values. Adding to their commitment to urban renewal, energy efficiency and affordability, CNCURC is now bringing accessibility to their repertoire. Proudly presenting their first accessible home, 1425 Chase, CNCURC’s skilled team has masterfully brought this property back to life, preserving the original charm of the home while making modifications to provide accessibility for a disabled buyer. 1 bedroom, 1 bath, single-floor living, 1425 has original pine floors, IKEA kitchen, energy star appliances and icynene insulation. It will be listed on the MLS later this week.
Also complete and offered for sale, 1422 Chase is an artfully restored Italianate 3 bedroom, 2 bath beauty, situated close to CNCURC’s LEED homes, and easy walking distance to the Entertainment District. Open space for entertaining, high ceilings, new oak flooring, third floor master bedroom, IKEA kitchen and modern fixtures throughout, this home also has off-street parking in back off Mad Anthony. $167,000.
We will be rolling out the green carpet for these two homes on the 8th, all are most welcome to come and tour the homes. Drinks and refreshments will be served. Please join us in applauding CNCURC in their success! For more information, call Libby Hunter, 513-260-9632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you there!
Ohio Treasurer of State Kevin Boyce has announced the Treasury will kick off a nine-city “Green Listening Tour” through September and October, with a stop in Cincinnati on Wednesday, September 30.
The tour follows the Treasury’s launch of ECO-Link Energy Conservation for Ohioans, a program designed to help consumers save money, conserve energy and stimulate the economy by providing new green jobs.
“The Ohio Treasury wants to do its part to help Ohio emerge as a leader in the new green economy,” said Treasurer Boyce. “The listening tour provides a platform for Ohio residents to share innovative ideas about ways they are making their homes and businesses more energy efficient and solicit input on the ECO-Link Program.”
Join us at Cincinnati State’s ATLC Auditorium on Wednesday, Septemeber 30th from 5:30-7:30. Parking in the Central Parkway Garage on campus will be free to all attending.
- Libby Hunter, EcoBroker, Comey & Shepherd Realtors
- Janice Urbanik, Cincinnati Workforce
- Larry Fiest, Cincinnati State
- Ralph Wells, Cincinnati State
- Scott Hawken, NextEra Energy
- Andy Holzhauser, Cincinnati Energy Alliance
- Quinten Harris, Ohio Department of Development