GREEN TIP #7- BUILD “Green”
Green construction practices protect the site and natural habitats by controlling water and power usage, limiting waste, insuring public health and safety, and reducing the impact of the structure on the environment. A tall order! The “LEED” system, created by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the system by which buildings are rated and scored as to their “greenness.” Use of products made from rapidly renewable materials, efficient lighting and mechanical systems, certified woods harvested from managed forests, and locally available resources are just a few green building strategies. Although construction is sometimes a bit more expensive, these buildings, either residential or commercial, offer a payback over the long haul. Tax credits are available for upgrading various items and systems in your home.
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GREEN TIP #8- EXPLORE “GREEN” MATERIALS AND FINISHES
For a product to meet sustainable criteria and be the greenest of green, it must pass the litmus test on several different levels: what is the manufacturing process, howfar it is shipped, what is its life span, can it be recycled, etc. Many products have favorable attributes in one aspect or another but ultimately don’t pass the test under scrutiny. Because green building is an emerging industry, there is inconsistency in product quality and in the use of the label “green.” It’s important to research and compare products. Interior finishes that pass the green test include paperstone and recycled glass countertops; reclaimed wood, bamboo, and linoleum floors; and formaldehyde free plywood and substrates.
GREEN TIP #9- LET THERE BE “GREEN” Light
The biggest wave in residential energy conservation has been the substitution of fluorescent for incandescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescent lamps, or “CFLs,” use approximately 1/3 less energy and have a longer lifespan. The newest higher temperature bulbs offer greatly improved brightness and light quality and are more affordable. There is one major caveat: all fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury and require proper disposal. Mercury is an environmental contaminant and harmful to wildlife and humans. Rather than disposing of CFLs in your trash can, take them to a retailer offering in-store recycling. If a fluorescent bulb is broken there are specific instructions for clean up and disposal.
Other energy saving devices include motion sensors to control light fixtures when entering and leaving a room. The use of dimmers also reduces energy use even at a relatively high setting. Just beginning to make an appearance in the marketplace, high efficiency LED lighting could be an important technology in the future. The use of low voltage lighting (12 volt) produces great energy savings without sacrificing lighting brightness or quality.