Building Products & Ratings
|Green building has become more popular in
the wake of global warming. Although green building costs
may be higher initially, the lifetime savings more than make
up for it. Initial green building estimates a 2 to 3%
increase on average over conventional building. (One studyís
report ranged from 18% below to 9% above comparable
conventional housing.) However, green building can mean a
lifetime savings of 20%; up to ten times the initial
investment. Additionally, there are many utility rebates and
government tax credits that will help allay the initial
There are certain specifications for green building
criteria. They are:
1. Made with salvaged, recycled, or agricultural waste
2. Conserve natural resources
3. Avoid products that give off toxic chemicals or emissions
4. Save energy or water
5. Select products that are easy to maintain with non toxic
6. Choose products that prevent the accumulation of mold,
dust mites, or other pollutants.
There are several certifications available to assess green
products. They include:
Energy Star: This is a rating system by the US EPA
for residential heating and cooling equipment, major
appliances, office equipment, lighting, etc. An Energy Star
appliance may get you rebates from utility companies and
government tax credits, not to mention extremely efficient
FSC Certified Wood: This wood is certified by the
Forest Stewardship Council to be in compliance with their
specifications for a well managed forest. Product categories
include cabinets and casework, decking, doors and windows,
flooring, engineered wood, framing lumber, millwork, office
furniture, and plywood.
GREENGUARD Product Guide: Products listed by
Greenguard have been tested by the US Environmental
Green Label Plus: This is a testing certification for
carpeting by the Carpet and Rug Institute for indoor air
quality and low emitting materials in carpeting for 13
chemicals. ( Carpeting is not considered environmentally
Green Seal: This is an independent, nonprofit
organization that sets environmental standards.
Master Painters Institute Green Performance Standard:
MPIís Green Performance Standard contains a list of banned
ingredients and sets a maximum allowable level of volatile
organic compounds for each paint category. Conformance
requires a paint to meet MPIís performance standard for its
category and meet the green requirements.
An additional source of information is the Energy Efficiency
and Renewable Energy Network, which is a US EPA site
providing information about space heating and cooling, water
heating, lighting, appliances, office equipment, and
building electrical equipment.
LEED: This is a US Green Building Council rating.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.
Silver and Gold LEED ratings on a building offer low cost or
no cost credit opportunities. Currently LEED is for
developers of large commercial buildings. There is a LEED
for Homes (LEED-H) being pilot tested.
The most important steps you can take in green building are
those that will conserve energy and deter pollution. This
includes energy efficient appliances, heating, and cooling
products; environmentally friendly paint and flooring; and
using recycled building products whenever possible.
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