Why Choose Green Building Products?

April 12, 2010 at 5:13 pm 1 comment

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

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Green Homes DO Have Added Value!

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Libby Hunter and Jami Stutzman are local Cincinnati Realtors and members of the U.S. Green Building Council who have a passion for sustainable living. Environmental responsibility lies at the core of our business practice - let us show you how we can help with ecologically-minded real estate needs. Please browse our blog, visit our local green vendors' websites and if you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let us show you how green features can make all the difference in your experience!

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