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Choosing green materials p BY MAGGIE LESLIE p materials cannot. Some products here are so many products can reduce the need for other prodand companies out there that ucts — for example, concrete floors claim to be green it makes it can be stained to look very attractive very difficult to tell which products and there is no need for an addireally are green and which are not. tional layer of material. Next, look The truth is, there aren’t many prodfor recycled content materials. Postucts that are completely sustainable. consumer recycled content means Instead, decisions should be based the waste used can no longer be on a list of criteria. The Environmental used for its original intended purBuilding News’ Greenspec® product pose, such as carpet made of old directory breaks products down into soda bottles. Pre-consumer or “posta few basic categories, and I added industrial” means waste diverted a few extra criteria that I think are during the manufacturing process. also important to consider: Choose post-consumer over post■ Products made with salvaged, industrial materials wherever posrecycled or agricultural waste. sible. ■ Products that conserve natural resources. Products that conserve ■ Products that save energy or wanatural resources ter. ■ Products that contribute to a safe, Products made from rapidly rehealthy built environment. newable materials are the next best ■ Locally manufactured products. options. These materials can be har■ Fair trade. vested and then renew themselves ■ Carbon neutral. quickly (typically under 10 years), ■ Minimally packaged. unlike hardwoods which can take A great way to asses the true imhundreds of years to return, if ever. pact of a product is to look at it in Cork and bamboo floorings are exterms of a lifecycle assessment, which amples of products made from rapanalyzes the product from resource idly renewable resources (though extraction, through production, use the products are shipped great disand disposal. According to Greentances). spec, a lifecycle assessment is “the Some lumber has been third parscience of the examining the envity certified to have been sustainable ronmental and health impacts of harvested. The two most common products … A green product is one certifications for sustainable wood whose life cycle impacts Great Resources for Choosing Green Materials are low.” Unfortunately, life • Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by William McDonough cycle assess• www.BuildingGreen.com ments are very • www.GreenHomeGuide.com difficult to do using comprehensive and are Forest Stewardship Council Cerconsistent protocols and therefore tified (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry not widely available yet. Initiative Certified (SFI). SFI certified wood is second party certified, not Products made with third, and is currently not recognized as a sustainably harvested wood by salvaged, recycled or the U.S. Green Building Council’s agricultural waste LEED standards, though SFI is a This category comes first, begood option if FSC is not available, cause it is always better to reuse is cost prohibitive or shipped from and recycle products before creating great distances. new ones. Considering that buildDurable products are also in the ings create 136 million tons of connatural resource conservation catestruction and demolition waste in gory. If you build the greenest home the U.S (approximately 2.8 lbs per in America and then it rots from person, daily), efforts to reuse and moisture problems and the materials recycle could have a huge impact are sent to the landfill, we are no on reducing waste. Salvaged floorbetter off. This is why some people ing, for example, is beautiful plus even consider vinyl siding to be a adds character to a home that new green product. It is toxic to produce


Popular bark siding. Highland Craftsman photo

Summary of Greenspec Product Standards Products made with salvaged, recycled or agricultural waste content • Salvaged products • Products with post-consumer recycled content • Products with pre-consumer recycled content • Products made from agricultural waste material

Products that Conserve Natural Resources

• Products that reduce material use • Products with exceptional durability or low maintenance • Rapidly Renewable Products

Products that avoid toxic or other emissions • Natural or minimally processed • Alternatives to ozone depleting substances • Alternatives to hazardous products • Reduces or eliminates pesticide treatments • Reduces stormwater pollution • Reduces impacts from construction/demolition

Products that save energy or water

• Building components that reduce heating and cooling loads • Equipment that conserves energy • Renewable energy • Fixtures and equipment that conserve water

Products that contribute to a safe, healthy indoor environment • Products that don’t release significant pollutants into the building • Products that block introduction, production or spread of contaminants • Products that remove indoor pollutants • Products that warn occupants of health hazardous • Products that improve light quality • Products that help control noise • Products that enhance community well being

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Profile for Smoky Mountain News

WNC Green Building Membership Directory 2014  

A primary tool for education, outreach and expansion of the green building industry in Western North Carolina.

WNC Green Building Membership Directory 2014  

A primary tool for education, outreach and expansion of the green building industry in Western North Carolina.