GREEN BUILDING 

What are some products on the market today that we should consider using for green building?

What are some products on the market today that we should consider using for green building?

There is a question asked when incorporating green elements in a project is just what share of green do you want up to be? There are many opportunities available to be environmentally friendly and now more than ever people are thinking more in terms of incorporating green into their homes. Going green is the future and today; many off-the-wall shelf products offer far better durability and energy efficiency that products from like-same products just a few years ago. It is important when considering building green that you know basic building science and you ask questions – lots of questions and this will allow you to select products that can save money and help you in living green. In new building, you should start with selection of the items that have a larger input on green savings such as the heating & cooling, the water heater, cooking, hot tubs, all of which are big energy users. Then move to the next level of water conservation items such as toilets and showerheads, and then take a look at other appliances that use both energy and water such as hot water heaters. Look at systems that reduce air infiltration, look at insulation, or a reflective roof material. We are going to talk about several products on the market that can help you raise the eco-friendly status of your new home. Keep in mind there are hundred’s of green sustainable items on the market today. Just remember to take a common sense approach to your decisions.

• Reflective Roofing
There are potential energy savings from using reflective roofing materials in hot climates. These shingles are not a new concept and they can achieve an initial solar reflectance of .25 and they meet Energy Star requirements. Not only for a new home, but with a roof replacement, ask your roofer about reflective shingles.

• Hybrid Electric Water Heater
There is a really cool hybrid electric water heater that borrows heat form ambient air near the unit and transfers it, heating the water. This unit can also operate as a no-frills electric water heater. This hybrid unit can save $525 annually over a typical 50-gallon electric water heater and that is a fast payback.

• Whirlpool Dishwasher
Whirlpool has once again raised the bar on dishwashers and has designed a new product that is designed for lifelong performance with a stainless steel interior, managed water jets and an adaptive cleaning cycle. This dishwasher uses one-third the natural resources as the dishwashers from 2000. While the efficiency of most appliances has improved dramatically over the past decade, dishwashers have been among the most improved. The most improved appliance is the refrigerator.

• Recycled glass tiles
This is a terrific product if you want to lean towards glass that is cleaner and you are helping with recycling. All glass tiles are made using 87-97% per-consumer recycled glass. In other words, this product is made of material that would normally be a part of the waste stream. We are not on the road to the conscientious land of reuse and recycling. Aside from asphalt and steel, other materials such as glass and especially plastics end up in land fills and not back in use.

• Double Solar Panels
There is a new solar panel on the market that collects sunlight from both sides of the panel. What this means is that each panel generates up to 30% more energy than a single sided PV panel. These panels have a 20 year guarantee of 80% or better efficiency.

• Energywise Heating/Cooling
You should have your HVAC system that you are considering installing and/or a replacement system evaluated to determine what will be adequate for your home. HVAC companies will be able to give you a certain level of performance. It is important to know that installing equipment that is appropriately sized to heat and cool a home is essential to getting the best performance and comfort.

• Exterior doors
Doors are an important player in a home’s energy model. Fiberglass doors claim to have five times the insulating values as wood. It is important to install a properly sealed insulated door.

• Recycled Counter tops
Offer an environmental alternative and they can give you comparisons as to what is in their products vs. standard counter top material.

• Formaldehyde-free cabinets
Are eco-friendly and they are made with recycled wheat straw fiber cores, not wood. This product is greener than most off-the-wall shelf brands not only from an indoor air quality perspective but also because of the backings, drawer components and glues used when making these straw board cabinets.

• Lighting Controls
Saving energy on lighting controls is hitting the market fast. There is a new dimmer wireless controller on the market that can control fluorescent lights. This new dimmer reduces watt demands of lighting and is an easy efficient way to save energy.

• Fiberglass Windows
Fiberglass windows are a good alternative to PVC windows because production of virgin PVC has a high energy cost and has been shown to produce dangerous pollutants. While PVC expands and contracts dramatically with temperatures fiberglass responds similarly to insulated glass which creates less stress on seals and can potentially extend window life.

• Fiber Cement Siding
This is a durable, insect proof product that has a green aspect. Fly ash is incorporated in its mix. That makes the siding lighter in weight and easier to work with. This product requires less frequent painting which has additional environmental benefits.

Just remember, you do not have to get crazy with green improvements. You can make a home energy efficient, durable and have good in-door air quality with well thought out managed and embedded energy elements. Do not put such a strong criteria on your wanting to be green that decisions will lead to struggles. Embrace the concepts and make your decisions accordingly. Remember to manage natural sunlight, the location of your home on the lot and remember to ask questions and vet your products and you will have a home that will meet and/or exceed your set of sustainable criteria. There are numerous incentives available that can certainly help to offset some of your product purchases.

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