Environmentally friendly building and remodeling has gone mainstream, but what does living green really mean?
Good news for you, Kermit: It's not that hard being green anymore. Products claiming green status seem to be popping up all over, and support for the concept has almost become a given. In fact, the only hard part now is pinning down exactly what it means to be green.
Joyce Mason, vice-president of marketing for California's Pardee Homes, has an answer. The company built its first Energy Star home in 1998 and has built 3,000 energy-efficient houses with environmentally friendly materials since 2001. Here's this residential builder's definition of green:
The company matches products with these principles in four categories (more to follow on each):
Many products that reduce harmful effects on the environment are on the market now. Often they are simple and inexpensive, offering green benefits whether you're planning to build or remodel. Others are practical only when the cost can be incorporated into a mortgage; this way the upfront cost can be spread over time and made up for in savings on your monthly utility bill. Here's a short list.
Check out these two links, which are excellent Web-based resources to help you find and evaluate energy-smart products.
For information about federal and state tax credits and rebates for buying and using energy-efficient products, consult the next two sites.
Minimizing the use of nonrenewable resources usually involves the intentional selection of alternative materials in building and remodeling. This is partly behind the upsurge in the popularity of bamboo flooring, for example. Such products have to be attractive, durable, and reasonably priced to attract attention -- and many companies are working to provide these products. Here are some other examples.
See this Web site for a comprehensive list of earth-smart products.
The National Association of Home Builders has developed guidelines now used by 15 state and local building programs across the U.S.
One common concern for parents in recent years has been the effect of dust and residue from lead in paint. Radon has also been a big issue. Evidence of how important both of these home health issues has become is that disclosures are now typically required as part of any residential real estate transaction.
Creating and maintaining a healthy home environment is obviously important for anyone with allergies or heightened sensitivity to noxious odors or pollutants. But today's consumers are becoming more attuned to these issues regardless of special needs, and that's a good thing for everyone. Consider these highly effective product solutions for a healthy home.
For a special emphasis about dealing with health hazards that affect children in the home, visit the first Web site listed below.
The main water issues in the home are purification and conservation. Great strides have been made in both areas in recent years. One of the more interesting advances is permeable pavement, which is especially effective at helping filter chemicals that leak from cars parked in the driveway. Here are more examples.