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Sustainability

February 27, 2012

Alli @ 8:23 am

Windows – Energy Efficency

      

Besides offering a view while washing dishes, windows provide natural light and reduce the need for electricity. The same applies to skylights, patio doors, and entry doors with glass panels. Maximizing the use of natural light to save energy and to make your home more comfortable is also called day-lighting. Day-lighting takes into account window placement and coverings as well as the windows themselves.

On the other hand, windows can be a major source of heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer, forcing you to overwork your furnace and your air conditioner. Old or poorly installed windows cause drafts or allow condensation to develop.

If you’re not replacing windows as part of your remodel, you should buy energy-efficient storm windows for winter and also add weatherstripping and caulk around windows to air seal them. In the summer months, outdoor vegetation and awnings can protect your home from heat gain. So can shades, blinds and window films.

Window Stickers to Watch

To find energy-efficient windows and skylights, look for products with stickers from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). The NFRC measures the following key properties: U-factor, solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), air leakage (AL) and visible light transmittance (VT).

  • U-factor indicates the rate of heat loss of the entire window. (It’s the opposite of R-value, which indicates the insulating value of the window). The lower the U-factor, the more energy efficient it is. Along with SHGC, this is the most important number to watch.
  • SHGC measures how much of the solar radiation that hits the window will enter the home. It is expressed as a number between 0 (0 percent) and 1 (100 percent). The lower the SHGC, the more radiation blocked by the window.
  • AL measures the cubic feet of air infiltrating a square foot of the window area. The lower the number, the less air can get in your house. Casement, awning and fixed windows tend to be tighter than sliding, single-hung and double-hung windows.
  • VT indicates how much visible light passes through the window. It is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The higher it is, the more light is transmitted—this is good for day-lighting.
Filed under: Go Green

Sustainability

February 24, 2012

Alli @ 11:58 am

Lighting – Energy Efficiency

A recommended approach to lighting your home

Especially in a multipurpose, highly trafficked room like the kitchen, lighting should be an integral part of the project, not an afterthought. Proper lighting improves the function, appearance and energy efficiency of your home and is also important to your comfort, health and safety. Yet homeowners and contractors alike often place more emphasis on decorative aspects or wiring considerations than efficiency and function.

Follow these strategies to ensure your lighting is as practical and energy-efficient as possible:

Develop a Lighting Plan  

A lighting plan should include both the location and the type of fixtures and controls. Along with the ambient lighting required by building codes, the plan should address decorative, task, focal, and safety lighting.

Instead of traditional incandescent lighting fixtures, opt for fluorescent fixtures that are Energy Star-qualified. Look for lamps with a higher Color Rendering Index (CRI)—at least 70 or 80—to avoid a glow and get a light closer to true natural light.

Recessed lights (aka “can” lights) that penetrate the ceiling should be IC-rated (insulation contact) so that they are resistant to fire and also prevent air leakage and energy loss. Other similar lighting fixtures should be caulked around the edge or gasket-ed to prevent air infiltration.

Filed under: Go Green

Sustainability

February 23, 2012

Alli @ 8:43 am

Cabinet Casework, Doors and Finishes

          

Regardless of the material used on the doors and drawer fronts, the actual casework—the box and drawers—of many kitchen cabinets are constructed from particleboard and medium density fiberboard (MDF). These materials contain urea formaldehyde glue, which can off-gas toxins into the home.

Instead, look for cabinets made from FSC-certified plywood, wheatboard, bamboo or formaldehyde-free MDF. This could require going the custom route instead of using semi-custom or stock cabinets.

Finishes

Whether you’re re-finishing cabinets or buying new ones, look for water-based sealants, low-VOC finishes; low- or no-VOC, formaldehyde-free paints; and solvent-free adhesives. If your cabinets are factory-finished, there’s even less worry about off-gassing in your home.

Outside the Box

Here’s a few of the most popular green materials for cabinet exteriors:

Wood and wood veneers are naturally found materials. Look for cabinets made from wood with FSC or other industry certification attesting that it comes from a well-managed, sustainable forest.

CONS: Non-FSC certification standards are not as stringent. Some exotic wood species—African teak, Brazilian rosewood and Caribbean mahogany, for example—are endangered.

Bamboo, a grass that looks like wood, is an elegant alternative to wood cabinets. Bamboo grows rapidly, becoming large enough to harvest in three to six years, making it a more sustainable product than most hardwoods.

CONS: No third-party organization monitors environmental regulations and worker safety. The resins used to laminate it often contain urea formaldehyde—make a special request if getting custom cabinets.

Stainless steel contains a significant amount of recycled steel and doesn’t off-gas. It is durable but can be scratched.

CONS: Mining and refining steel uses a great deal of energy and pollutes the environment.

Filed under: Go Green

Sustainability

February 20, 2012

Alli @ 8:45 am

Trex Decking

Using a unique combination of reclaimed wood and plastic, Trex decking and railing products provide the best qualities of both materials. The recycled plastic (from sources such as grocery bags and stretch film) shields the wood from moisture and insect damage, so there’s no rotting, warping, or splintering. The reclaimed wood (a waste product of woodworking manufacturers) protects the plastic from UV damage, and gives your fences and deck railings a solid, natural look and feel. Trex decking is more durable than wood, is pleasing to the touch, and is slip-resistant. It requires no staining, sanding, or repairing leaving you free time to enjoy your deck rather than maintain it! Trex is also easy to cut, route and fasten; and unlike wood, it can be easily laid out in curvilinear patterns. Trex comes in a wide range of distinctive colors, textures and styles.

So if you are in the market for a new deck this spring, consider using Trex Decking instead of wood! It’s a great long lasting, durable and sustainable option!

 

Filed under: Go Green

Sustainability

February 15, 2012

Alli @ 8:41 am

Roofing Tiles

EcoStar Majestic Slate Tiles offer the natural beauty of slate while providing enhanced strength and durability.

Featuring a 50-year warranty and available with a 100 mph wind warranty, Majestic Slate tiles provide high-impact resistance to harsh conditions, including wind, driving rain, hail, falling branches, foot traffic, ice and snow damage. Manufactured with a state-of-the-art formulation using 80% post-industrial recycled TPO (Thermoplastic Poly-olefin) and EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene M-class ) polymers. These tiles are very easy to install and meets all of  today’s current codes.

Filed under: Go Green

Sustainability

February 14, 2012

Alli @ 8:59 am

Radiant Heating

Radiant heating is inherently green: it uses less energy than forced air systems and does not circulate dust, bacteria, or other particles the way forced air does. 

 Warmboard is different than most radiant heating systems. It consists of a sheet of tongue-and-groove plywood with a modular pattern of channels cut into the surface. A thick sheet of aluminum is stamped to match the channel pattern and is permanently bonded to each panel. A roll of half-inch PEX tubing (the radiant industry standard for toughness, reliability, and performance) is then easily installed into the channel to complete the hydronic circuit.

As a structural subfloor, Warmboard is stiff, strong and especially tough. It can be sawn with a Skilsaw and nailed or screwed directly to your floor joists just like any conventional subfloor. It is less labor intensive than other radiant heat systems because it installs in just a few easy steps. Warmboard is now available in FSC-grade wood!

Wood floors are almost everyone’s first go to choice when selecting new flooring for their space. Warmboard is a great solution for radiant heating while still keeping the sustainability factor in mind!!

Filed under: Go Green

Sustainability

February 13, 2012

Alli @ 10:18 am

Seek Alternative Materials

Today, more and more manufacturers are working closely with designers to develop a wide range of options in environmentally friendly materials that are recycled, reclaimed, organic and/or renewable. For every product used in an interior environment, there is usually a greener option that can be used. In addition search for locally sourced and manufactured materials.

Here is a table that will help you find good sustainable alternatives….

materials table

Filed under: Go Green

Sustainability

February 9, 2012

Alli @ 10:57 am

Save a tree, use less paper

You can buy “tree-free” 100% post-consumer recycled paper for everything from greeting cards to toilet paper. Paper with a high post-consumer waste content uses less virgin pulp and keeps more waste paper out of landfills.

Other tips:

  • Remove yourself from junk mail lists. Each person will receive almost 560 pieces of junk mail this year, which adds up nationally to 4.5 million tons, according to the Native Forest Network. About 44% of all junk mail is thrown in the trash, unopened and unread, and ends up in a landfill. To stem the flow into your own home, contact the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service at P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512, or download the online form. Opt out of credit card or insurance offers at OptOutPrescreen.com or by calling 888-567-8688, a single automated phone line maintained by the major credit bureaus.
  • Buy unbleached paper. Many paper products, including some made from recycled fibers, are bleached with chlorine. The bleaching process can create harmful byproducts, including dioxins, which accumulate in our air, water and soil over time.

Filed under: Go Green

Sustainability

February 8, 2012

Alli @ 10:34 am

Clean green.

Stop buying household cleaners that are potentially toxic to both you and the environment. In his book, “The Safe Shopper’s Bible,” David Steinman suggests reading labels for specific, eco-friendly ingredients that also perform effectively. These include grain alcohol instead of toxic butyl cello-solve, commonly found in carpet cleaner and some window cleaners as a solvent; coconut or other plant oils rather than petroleum in detergents; and plant-oil disinfectants such as eucalyptus, rosemary or sage rather than triclosan, an anti fungal agent found in soaps and deodorant.

Or, skip buying altogether and make your own cleaning products. Use simple ingredients such as plain soap, water, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), vinegar, washing soda (sodium carbonate), lemon juice and borax and save money at the same time. Check out these books by Annie Bertold-Bond for cleaning recipes: “Clean and Green” and “Better Basics for the Home.”

 

Filed under: Go Green

Sustainability

February 7, 2012

Alli @ 3:03 pm

Watch the temp.

Almost half a home’s energy consumption is due to heating and cooling. 

  • Turn down the thermostat in cold weather and keep it higher in warm weather. Each degree below 68°F (20°C) during colder weather saves 3%-5% more heating energy, while keeping your thermostat at 78°F in warmer weather will save you energy and money. A programmable thermostat will make these temperature changes for you automatically.
  • Clean your furnace’s air filter monthly during heavy usage.
  • Consider a new furnace. Today’s furnaces are about 25% more efficient than they were in the 1980s. (And don’t forget to check out furnaces carrying the Energy Star label.)
  • To keep you cool in warmer weather, shade your east and west windows and delay heat-generating activities such as dish washing until evening.
  • Use ceiling fans instead of air conditioners. Light clothing in summer is typically comfortable between 72°F and 78°F. But moving air feels cooler, so a slow-moving fan easily can extend the comfort range to 82°F, according to “Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings” by Alex Wilson.

 

Filed under: Go Green

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