Finding Eco-friendly Building Supplies for Home Remodeling Projects
Although green building and remodeling has become more popular over the past several years, many homeowners do not know where to look for eco friendly building products. The airwaves are full of companies offering products that are supposedly green and energy efficient. Sorting out the claims to believe is as easy as knowing where to look.
Sustainable Lumber Products
Building materials such as plywood, dimensional lumber, paneling and even wood flooring and cabinetry can be produced in different ways with materials from around the globe. How can a homeowner know that they are selecting products that are produced responsibly? Choosing lumber and wood products with the FSC certification offers homeowners a way to ensure they are selecting environmentally friendly products.
The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is an independent non-profit organization that offers a certification process for forestry professionals who wish to adhere to a higher level of social and environmental responsibility. The certification shows that the wood within the product was harvested in accordance with responsible forest management standards and that the rights of the people working in and living near the forest have been respected. Their goal is to create forests that will meet the needs of the local community right now, as well as in the future.
The FSC label can be found on rough lumber products (plywood, studs, beams and more) as well as finishing materials such as cabinetry, paneling and flooring. Choosing materials that carry the FSC label is a good way to purchase sustainable materials for any building or remodeling project.
Energy Efficient Lighting and Appliances
Backed by the US federal government, the Energy Star program offers a simple way to determine the most energy-efficient lighting and electrical appliances on the market. In order to earn the Energy Star label, a product must use less energy compared to similar products on the market and offer a significant savings on energy bills to the consumer. The product also must ensure high performance standards as compared to traditional products of the same kind.
Products tested by Energy Star include washers, dryers, refrigerators, furnaces, stoves, air conditioners, light fixtures, ceiling fans and more. Each Energy Star label contains information stating the average amount of energy savings per year. Choosing Energy Star-rated products allows homeowners the peace of mind that they are reducing their household energy consumption, and will save money in the process.
Green Interior Products
Many flooring, cabinetry, countertops and other interior finishing materials can also be considered green. Although not all products will carry a certification label, many are still considered ecologically friendly based on the raw materials that are used, the ability to recycle the end product and their low VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions.
Bamboo and cork have been all over the media, touted as the some of the very best in green interior flooring products, since they are easily renewable. However, since these materials can only be grown at specific locations in the world, they require high transportation costs and energy use to get them to most jobsites. In addition, the glues that go into the production of these products can give off VOCs. Homeowners need to keep these considerations in mind when selecting their interior finishing materials.
To combat these issues, homeowners can select finishing materials that are produced within 500 miles of their building or remodeling site. By cutting back on the transportation distance, fuel is conserved and emissions are lowered. Options for these locally produced products may range from wood flooring and cabinetry to stone countertops or tiles, depending on the location of the building site.
Recycled and recyclable products are finding their way to the market, as well. These include carpet and wallcoverings. US carpet manufacturers such as Shaw and Mohawk have developed programs to recover used carpet, remove its backing and turn the fibers into new carpet fibers. Vinyl wallcovering companies have also developed products that are made from recycled vinyl, and paint manufacturers such as Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams offer products that give off very little fumes and toxins.
While green building supplies are readily available, each region and country offers homeowners something different in the way of product options.