As interest in the environment grows, it’s hard to turn on the television without seeing a story that offers advice on how consumers can go green. But while it’s true that every little bit helps, there are no quick fixes on the road to sustainability. This is especially true in home building.
Loading up your houses with green building products won’t mean much if other (more important) elements of sustainability are ignored. So, if your homes are not thoughtfully designed or do not follow building science principles, no amount of green products will help you or your buyers.
But the right products can help you follow through once you’ve started building green. Assuming you adhere to the important elements of sustainable building, you will want to specify the right items, such as fixtures that save water, materials made with recycled content, and appliances that sip, rather than gulp, energy.
On the following pages are 13 products that will make a difference. Check out items such as soybean-based foam insulation, tankless water heaters that save energy and help provide better indoor air quality, and tiles made from reconstituted leather scraps. The products you choose can make a big difference between seriously green and so-so green.
Top Off: EcoTop composite countertop surfacing is made from 50 percent bamboo fiber and 50 percent recycled wood fiber salvaged from demolition sites. The fibers are then mixed with water-based resin that is free of volatile organic compounds. Available in seven colors, the product is highly scratch- and stain-resistant, the company says. Klip BioTechnologies. 253-507-4622. www.kliptech.com.
No Tanks: Designed for today’s tightly constructed homes, this direct-vent tankless heater provides 7.4 gallons of hot water per minute. The 82 percent–efficient product draws combustion air directly from the outside rather than from the interior, which prevents indoor air quality problems. It can be set from 100 degrees to a maximum of 140 degrees and comes with a remote control thermostat. Rheem Manufacturing Co. 479-646-4311. www.rheem.com.
Vision Quest: The Vision freestanding fireplace doesn’t require a utility connection for fuel supply, so it can be placed almost anywhere in the home. It burns renewable denatured ethanol produced from agricultural and forestry products such as sugarcane. Ideal for multifamily projects, the unit measures 46.9 inches wide and 39 inches high. EcoSmart Fire. 310-914-3335. www.ecosmartfire.com.
Exterior Grade: The exterior version of the manufacturer’s Aura line has a low-odor formulation and low volatile organic compounds. The product uses technology that encapsulates color pigment in resin, resulting in long-term resistance to fading, mildew, and weather, the company says. It’s available in three finishes and thousands of colors. Benjamin Moore & Co. 201-573-9600. www.benjaminmoore.com.
Green Beans: The maker uses rapidly renewable soy beans to produce a line of spray foam insulation products that can help reduce utility bills by up to 50 percent. Available in closed-cell and open-cell formulations, BioBased products contain no chloroflourocarbons or hydrochloroflourocarbons so they are better for the environment than petroleum-based products. BioBased Insulation. 800-803-5189. www.biobased.net.