Building Green

Published: 04th March 2009
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Ecologically friendly building materials are becoming more and more popular. Where a few short years ago, you would have had a hard time finding "green" building materials, today they are plentiful and widely varied. Whether considering a remodel, or a new home from the ground up, architects, contractors and homeowners have many choices for environmentally safe, friendly and sound building materials.

Green Choices for Walls, Floors and Ceilings

When planning your new home or addition, what you use to make the walls, floors and ceilings can be as important as where you place them. Several green alternatives to plywood and sheetrock now exist that can make your building project much more environmentally compatible and safer for builders and residents alike.

EcoRock is a relatively new product that replaces gypsum-based sheetrock or drywall with sheets manufactured from 80% recycled materials. Sheetrock production is the third largest producer of greenhouses gases among building materials, right behind steel and concrete. Sheetrock manufacturing contributes 200 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year, due to the heating and "curing" process required. EcoRock uses 80% less energy by combining materials that react chemically to produce the same heat. This chemical process eliminates the need for the high-heat, high-energy process used to manufacture conventional drywall. EcoRock is also 100% recyclable, making it safe for landfills and available for reprocessing. It generates 60% less dust than conventional drywall panels, providing cleaner air for both construction worker and homeowner. It has proven to be 50% more mold and mildew resistant than conventional drywall panels. Overall, it is a much greener, safer, better choice for constructing walls and ceilings.

Plyboo is plywood made from sustainable, renewable bamboo. Bamboo, a grass, takes three to five years to mature, and can be harvested with much less environmental impact than traditional hardwoods. Bamboo can produce the same board feet of lumber in three to seven years that it takes an oak tree 100 years to produce. And it can do it again and again every three to seven years. It grows naturally on every continent but Antarctica and Europe. Natural groves need little to no fertilizing, so growing bamboo can have little to no impact on the environment. Finished Plyboo contains fewer VOC's than conventional hardwood plywood. Plyboo's LEED rating is far above that of hardwood plywood, while it is just as strong and versatile in use as its hardwood cousin.

Wheatboards are made of wheat, barley or rice stalks. The stalks are the by-product of the threshing process used to harvest the grain. Since the grains are a yearly crop, wheatboard is even more sustainable and conveniently renewable than bamboo. Wheatboard is commonly used in place of MDF, having a strength and versatility compatible to MDF, without the formaldehyde. Wheatboard has a higher resistance to moisture, is 10% lighter in weight than MDF, and has a superior screw and nail retention rating than conventional MDF. It falls between MDF and particle board, almost in a category of its own. While lighter and more environmentally safe than MDF, it takes paints better and is more machinable than particle board. It also has a stronger internal bond than both MDF or particle board. Wheatboard is a wonderfully green choice for floor underlayments, cabinetry, countertops and shelving and closet framing.

GigaCrete is a green alternative to drywall mud or plaster. It is made from recycled ash from coal-fired power plants. It has lower VOC emissions than conventional mud and plaster products, giving you cleaner indoor air. It is completely non-toxic. It takes less water and less energy to produce than conventional plasters. It contains no silica sand, making it easier to work, and live, with.

Green Choices for Kitchen and Bath Countertops

While granite may be all the rage for attractive kitchen and bath countertops, better, greener alternatives exist.

A perfectly green choice for countertops is Vetrazzo's countertops made from recycled glass. The glass used is 100% recycled material, often from such varied sources as decommissioned traffic lights and last night's wine bottle, and compromises 85% of the final product. Having somewhat of a mosaic appearance, Vetrazzo's countertops are eye-catching, available in many appealing and attractive color choices. The individual quality inherent in the different glass products used to create the countertop makes your countertop uniquely yours. No two are alike. The countertops are comparable in strength, durability, scratch resistance and heat resistance to granite. They require similar care to granite countertops, without the environmental impact of harvesting virgin granite. Most of the granite used in North America comes from developing countries, requiring shipping from great distances. Most granite quarries do not practice fair trade, treating employees little better than serfs. Vetrazzo is manufactured in the US, utilizing a process that uses recycled ash and other materials in addition to the glass content as much as possible. Vetrazzo prides itself on its Sustainable Manufacturing process.

PaperStone is made from 100% recycled paper. It is believed to be the "greenest" home building material available on the market, as its manufacturer has created it from recycled materials and it itself is 100% recyclable. It comes in many stylish color and finish choices. It is also lighter in weight than granite, does not contain the VOC's of particle board-laminate countertops and is just as stain resistant as most laminates.

Green Choices for Flooring

Bamboo, cork and even old fashioned linoleum are mush better, mush greener choices for your new floors than laminate, vinyl or traditional hardwood. Bamboo and cork are both mush more sustainable and renewable than hardwood. They carry fewer VOC's than laminates or vinyl flooring. You may equate linoleum more with grandma's house than your new home, but linoleum contains no PVC's. The lack of these harmful pollutants makes it a safer, family friendly solution for baths and kitchens, two areas where cork and bamboo are not recommended.

Building green isn't as difficult, or as drab as it used to be. Green building material choices abound. They are becoming just as wallet friendly as they are environmentally friendly, too. Going green isn't just a passing fancy. It's here to stay, and in a big way.Stint Construction is one of the leading nanaimo siding company choices for the Nanaimo, BC area. Visit them online to learn about their expertise and capability's at creating the finished exterior result exceeding your expectations.

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