Whether you are building a home or remodeling your home, the use of eco-friendly materials is no longer so much of an idea that you might vaguely consider as something that you should do, for the sake of your family, the earth and generations to come. Here is a run-down on what to look for in eco-friendly materials and appliances for your home.
If it’s eco-friendly, it is going to do or be some or all of the following:
- Save energy or water
- Reduce or not use toxic chemicals in it’s manufacture
- Conserve natural resources
- Be made from recycled or salvaged materials
Use wood that bears the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo. This wood, which you will be using for framing and maybe flooring is sustainably harvested, which means that there is no erosion, chemical usage, harm to land or wildlife or depletion of forests during the growing and harvesting process.
Your insulation is one of the most important elements in your home. It helps save a lot of energy and money. You can use insulation that is made from recycled blue jeans, mineral fiber, cellulose or a type of mineral insulation called air krete. These are more eco-friendly than traditional fiberglass insulation and work very well. The R factor of insulation is the most important way to gauge what to choose though. The higher the factor, the better the energy and money savings in the long run. Fiberglass or cellulose, the R factor has to be the deciding factor.
Your windows should be the very best that you can fit into your budget. Windows are the culprits in about one-third of your homes energy loss. Your window’s energy savings factor is called the U factor, and they range from 0.1 to 1.2. The higher the number, the better.
The paint you put on your walls should be green too. Not necessarily green in color, but green as far as the ecological and health impact that it has. Traditional paints emit gasses that can be dangerous to your health. Manufacturers are producing low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints that reduce the amount of these gasses significantly. They are pricier than traditional paints, but better for your family and the environment.
Other materials to consider are the cement used for your foundation. Ask your builder to use cement that substitutes fly ash for the traditional binding agent used in concrete, which sends tons of CO2 into the atmosphere during processing. For roofing, galvanized steel or alloy is becoming a popular choice because of it’s long (50 years) life span. And reflective roof tiles are great if you live in a warm climate for keeping your home cool.
Salvaged or FSC wood flooring is desirable, as are tile and stone floors. Natural linoleum is also a good choice (not vinyl). FSC wood is also the best choice for cabinets.
Your home can be just as green as you want it to be. Green builders are springing up all over the place and have learned how to build and remodel while helping to protect your family’s health and the environment. As you plan your home, be sure to talk to your builder about green options.