True Green: Four Tips to Select Green Products
(ARA) - Green was once just a color, but now it's a product, process, philosophy and lifestyle. With so many things going green, it is easy to get confused or misled about what "green" really means -- especially when it comes to home improvements.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC ) defines a green home as one that uses less energy, water and natural resources; creates less waste, and is healthier for the people living inside. Countless products that claim to help you achieve these standards are on the market, but how do you know which claims to trust?
To assist homeowners with green home improvements, the American Society of Interior Designers' Foundation and the USGBC have partnered to create Regreen, a resource for green home renovation best practices and guidelines.
"It's great to finally have a resource that helps consumers determine which products are truly green and which are not," says Joe Brooks, chief executive officer of Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies (AERT), manufacturer of MoistureShield Composite Decking (www.moistureshield.com).
Brooks recommends looking at the following variables from the Regreen program when selecting green products.
- Composition of product
We care about what goes into our bodies and should also care about what goes into the products that surround us every day. When choosing a green product, consider the raw materials used to create the product and their origin. Composite decking manufacturers like AERT use recovered wood fibers and recycled plastic grocery bags, milk jugs and detergent bottles to create their materials. Products using recycled rather than virgin materials help by creating less waste, keeping materials out of landfills and reducing the need for costly raw materials like petroleum.
By comparison, some decking products are made using polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with the promise of lower maintenance. According to the Healthy Building Network, PVC is the worst plastic from an environmental health perspective because it poses unique and significant risks in its production, product life and disposal, and defies the greater desire for a healthy environment and improved quality of life.
- Product lifecycle
To reduce the environmental impact even further, seek long-lasting products that also can be repurposed or recycled at the end of their life. Some can even be returned to the manufacturer to be recycled into future products.
While a product's composition may be green, it must also have the ability to be maintained sustainably. For building products that will be used outdoors, look for durable products that can withstand nature's elements over an extended time. Easy-to-install, low maintenance products also provide the sustainability needed for green home improvements.
Sustainability should also be practiced by the manufacturer and during the production process. Manufacturing processes can use a great deal of energy and resources, as well as release toxic chemicals and gases. Look for sustainable companies that have implemented environmental processes and procedures to reduce emissions and energy, as well as reduce the amount of waste through recycling, reusing and other environmentally responsible practices.
Green home improvements are a great way to increase your home's value. To ensure you are getting the most out of your green product, look for a life cycle cost analysis, which calculates the approximate maintenance cost over its lifetime compared to the initial product price.
Green home improvements can offer countless benefits when done correctly, so consider the factors above to select true green products that will work for you and your home.
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