The GREEN Page
Green building is an approach to designing and constructing buildings to lessen their impact on the environment and to provide a healthful atmosphere for their occupants. Green building is also described as “sustainable building”, with the primary goal being the conservation of materials, energy, and environment over the life of the structure. Green buildings embody three broad principles…conservation of natural resources, high indoor air quality and energy efficiency.
And just about every manufacturer out there has a self proclaimed statement that their product is GREEN. The information on this page will hopefully enlighten you enough that you can ask the right questions as you choose not just countertops or sinks, but any product or building material for your home.
HOW TO TELL IF A PRODUCT IS GREEN
Regardless of what product you are sourcing for your home, here are some good questions to ask….
Is the product manufactured locally?
Locally sourced materials use less energy, cause less pollution in transport, and help local economies.
Is it healthful?
Does the product contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde or other chemical irritants.
Is it durable?
Even if they cost a little more, long lasting materials benefit the environment.
Is it made from recycled materials, and can it be recycled?
Products made with at least some recycled materials require fewer raw materials for their manufacture, and products that can be recycled ease the strain on landfills.
Will it save energy?
Whether it is in the manufacturing process, or the use of the product in your home, anything you can do to lower energy demands is positive.
If you use only green or recycled products, does that make your home green?
Products made from recycled materials don’t make a house “Green” any more than solar panels do. But it is important to keep the goals of sustainable building in mind when making purchasing decisions. That’s not always easy. Take for example a granite countertop. Granite is a natural material and is extremely durable. But what if the stone is imported from the Far East and is mined in a country where labour or environmental laws are suspect? How much energy is consumed if it has to be shipped to another country for polishing and then shipped to a distributor in North America, then to a fabricator for cutting and dimensioning before it finally reaches your home?
Choosing appropriate materials is a lost effort if the house wastes fuel or is poorly designed and built. But given the right context, green products are an important part of sustainability.