1. Choose Building Materials Wisely The first step is to use local materials for your project when possible. You can also build with engineered wood products—wood joists, trusses, and other structural members that are made from smaller stock. Engineered wood products are stable and consistent in strength and precision. Composite materials made of recycled wood and plastics are available for many uses, including decking and trim work. Use water-base paints and finishes.
2. Consider Your Flooring Some types of flooring contribute to indoor air contamination due to the volatile organic compounds (VOC) used in their manufacture. Linoleum and natural-fiber carpets come from renewable resources and are durable. The cork used in linoleum is harvested from the cork tree without damaging it. Carpet-type flooring made from grasses and reeds is available. Hardwood, bamboo, stone, and ceramic tile are other choices. Air out your house after installation when adhesives are used.
3. Check Insulation Use loose-fill insulation made of cellulose fiber from recycled paper. Also check the insulation of the existing house—including the heating and cooling ducts—to make sure it's properly insulated. Install windows with insulated glass.
Continued on page 3: Home Design Ideas