What Are Green Materials?
Green materials are materials that have little negative impact on the environment. For example, they may have low embodied energy, contain no harmful chemicals, and be either biodegradable or recyclable.
Why Use Green Materials In My Building?
- Green materials can be better for your health -- Many commonly used materials, like paints, dyes, and insulation can contain carcinogens. Many green materials contain only trace amounts of carcinogens, if they contain carcinogens at all.
- Green materials can cost less -- While some green materials cost more than their non-green counterparts, many green products are much cheaper. For example, environmentally friendly paints save an average of $1.76 per gallon1. Also, federal tax credits are often available in exchange for choosing a green material.
- Green materials look good -- Environmentally friendly hardwood floors, roofing, paint, and dyes are all available in the same colors as non-green materials.
Specific Green Materials
- Bamboo is often used for hardwood floors. It replaces itself in an average of about 5 years, 17 times faster than oak. It also comes in over 50 different colors, which means that it will fit will in a variety of internal designs.2
- Fly-ash concrete is a way of recycling fly-ash, which is a byproduct of coal burning power plants. Flyash strengthens concrete, and flyash concrete is the same price regular concrete.
- BioShield sells low and no-VOC paints.
- Low-e Windows are coated with a substance that increases the R value of a building. While they are more expensive than normal windows, when paired with good insulation they can pay for themselves by dramatically reducing the heating and cooling costs of a building. Double paned and argon-filled windows have even higher R-values than their single-paned counterparts.
- Cotton Insulation is made by recycling scraps from jeans manufacturers and can be found with R values ranging from R-13 to R-30, according to the manufacturer. It's formaldehyde free and contains no fiberglass.
Lotus Live Guide to Wood
See the Lotus Live Guide to Wood for information about sustainable wood products.
Where Can I Find Green Materials?
- Green Depot is a great place to start for those on the east coast of the U.S.
- Bettencourt Green Building Supply has flooring, wall treatments, countertops, insulation, and other sheet products.
Other Green Material Resources
- National Building Museum's List of Green Materials and Where to Get Them
- What Makes a Product Green? (BuildingGreen)
Articles About Green Materials
- Permeable Pavement in Chicago's Alleys (NY Times 2007)
Authors: Nick Enge and Lauren Leonard
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