By Larraine Roulston:
Planning to build a home/cottage, or to renovate? Every step you take towards going green will help reduce greenhouse gases. First, try sourcing green construction materials, ideas and contractors.As more green builders emerge, these leaders of change will secure the future of a new sustainable building industry. Building becomes an opportunity to investigate flooring, lighting, plumbing, tiles and shingles with the environment in mind. The following is an outline of some of the possibilities.
Straw bale homes that are both appealing and affordable offer a unique experience. With their high “R” (Resistance) value, straw bale homes are amazingly warm in the winter and cool in the summer. If you are NEW TO STRAW BALE BUILDING, Andrew Morrison, a straw bale specialist, provides workshops, videos and a free 16-day straw bale e-course. Along with an experienced straw bale crew, these construction sites also offer every member of the family an opportunity to be part of the project.
Basement: If left uninsulated, this area can account for about 20-25% of a home’s total heat loss due to the large surface areas both above and below grade. During construction, use ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) insulation, which offers extra energy efficiency and airtight walls.
Plumbing: Most people do not consider the flow of waste water from their homes; however, cast iron pipes (if available in your area) have their advantages over plastic ones. Manufactured, using 95% post-consumer scrap iron, cast iron for the waste water system (referred to as storm and sanitary drain, waste and vent DWV plumbing) is a green choice, as it is not a petroleum based product.
Flooring & Walls: Lumber yards should have a designated area for reclaimed wood where you may find the ideal texture for your home. IDEA GALLERY displays stylish sustainable options of bamboo and cork, as well as carpet and tile, created with recycled content. For trim and interior doors, look for certified FSC lumber (Forest Stewardship Council). Toronto-based Greening Homes Limited helps residents design “green” homes. President Chris Phillips states, “Our team of carpenters and building experts work with clients in every aspect from choosing eco-friendly and recyclable materials to ensuring that they obtain a healthy living space. Greening Homes was created to be an impetus to an otherwise wasteful business.”
Doors & Windows: Interesting doors might be found at Habitat for Humanity Restore locations. Install double glazing on windows and even consider using triple glazing on windows facing north.
Countertops & Tiles: The company EOS Surfaces offers a variety of colors in its GEOS Recycled Glass Surface tiles, now available in many Home Depot outlets across the USA with plans to expand into Canada. Made with 57-63% recycled glass in a proprietary blend of polymer resin, these tiles also have low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) emissions. Liz O’Brien, Marketing Manager, said, “GEOS is different; we are not afraid to stand out from all the natural stone on the market. We offer a bold color pallet with large pieces of glass in the countertop.”
Roofing: Rooftop gardens cool homes in summer and act as a carbon sink. Light colored roofing reflects the sun’s rays. Visit Top 10 Green Roofing Options | HowStuffWorks as well as check out Enviroshakes, a composite material made from 95% recycled material including post-industrial plastics and fibers with added ingredients that protect it from UV degradation.
From the top down, sustainable building practices meet our present needs without compromising the needs of future generations.
Larraine authors children’s adventure books on composting at www.castlecompost.com