Shades of Green

Green products and practices should offer long-term environmental and cost benefits. For example, insulation made from renewable or recycled resources (plants, recycled fabrics, newspapers, etc.) might use less raw material to manufacture and even cost less to install, but will it reduce monthly energy consumption? Will it contribute to a home that is healthier and has fewer maintenance problems? Will it help a home last longer and stay out of landfill? If youre discussing green options with a builder, contractor or building products supplier, the following questions can help you evaluate their level of green building knowledge, as well as their green products and practices:

How green is your home?
Does it include building materials that:

- have a longer life span compared to conventional products?

- help the home be more durable and last longer?

-can be easily dismantled and reused or recycled at the end of their useful life?

- are nontoxic?

-are moisture and mold resistant?

- dont emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), HCFCs, HFAs, CFCs, formaldehyde?

- can easily be maintained/cleaned without chemicals?

Was a high performance insulation and air barrier system product used to help you save up to 50 percent in energy consumption and costs?

- Do you know how quickly the insulation will pay for itself? (Tip: if youre financing the purchase, compare the monthly energy savings to the monthly cost of borrowing.)

What products are used to protect your family from the intrusion of outdoor pollutants and allergens?

- Example: insulation that acts as an air barrier to improve indoor air quality combined with proper mechanical ventilation

Does your home feature any energy and water conserving appliances/fixtures?

- low energy lighting

- low-flush toilets

- appliances or water heaters with the Energy Star label

-energy-efficient windows/door

What practices and materials do you use the reduce the incidence of mold and other moisture-related building problems?

- air barrier

- vapor barrier

- rain screen

- proper flashing and water-shedding details on roofs

- foundation drainage to prevent ground water from seeping inside

- proper detailing of the thermal envelope to prevent condensation on building surfaces

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