9 Tips To Building A Green Home

Eco Green Houses

Building and remodeling supplies like drywall, insulation, flooring, and plumbing all commonly contain toxic chemicals that have the ability to pose potential health hazards. These chemical pollutants can be released in the air we breathe so it is extremely important that homeowners are aware of this and opt healthier building materials. Building a green home means clean and chemical free air quality for the whole family.

Tip #9 - Drywall

Drywall has the potential to pollute air with harmful contaminants such as sulfur and mercury. Sulfur and mercury can cause a plethora of health issues like respiratory problems and severe migraines. It is best to choose a drywall that was made in the United States after 2016 as it is ensured that it will meet all U.S. regulations which include: low sulfur emissions, and certified for low emission of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Utilizing a Greenguard certified drywall will also ensure that your drywall will contain low VOCS and be free of biocides, acetaldehyde, along with formaldehyde [1].

Tip #8 - Flooring

Recently, there have been several reports of high amounts of formaldehyde discovered within flooring materials. Since this discovery many homeowners have begun to pay close attention to their flooring products. Laminate, carpet, and vinyl flooring all contain toxic chemicals within the resin and glue that fuses together their wooden layers. They can also be treated with fungicides and chemical biocides. To green up your flooring utilize reclaimed wood that is water based with a certified green seal [2]. Natural linoleum, ceramic linoleum, glass, and/or porcelain tiles are also cleaner options to utilize in flooring. Make sure to use a low VOC glue during installation or utilize other nailing or interlocking installations.

Tip #7 - Insulation

One of the most important elements for homeowners to focus their energy efficiency on is insulation. Insulation currently comes in many forms like rolls, batts, rigid board, blown in, and spray form. Some insulation products contain chemical flame retardants like rigid foam which contains formaldehyde and spray foam which contains VOCs. To Greenguard your home insulation we suggest utilizing insulation materials like mineral wool, cellular glass, perlite, and cork board as they do not contain flame retardants.

Tip #6 - Carpeting

Carpet is typically made from synthetic materials like polypropylene or nylon that can be harmful to the eyes and respiratory system. Instead we suggest utilizing a wood flooring or tile that utilizes a low VOC finish or sealant. If you must install carpet then it is suggested to choose a wool or felt carpet that is made from renewable, natural fibers that are sustainable and chemical free.

Tip #5 - Sealants, Caulks, & Adhesives

Sealants, caulks, and adhesives all emit harmful VOCs or contain harmful phthalates, BPA, and/or formaldehyde. Instead of the general sealants, caulks, and adhesives one should look for products that have certified lower concentrations of VOCs like water based sealants and latex caulks. For wet areas one can try solvent free silicone caulk or a polyether based sealant.

Tip #4 - Plumbing & Pipes

Pipes that are made from or contain lead have long been a concern in the realm of plumbing materials. However, plastic pipes can be just as concerning as metal ones. Chemicals can leach from PEX and PVC pipes and are known for causing major health problems. Copper pipes are the best alternative when it comes to green pipes and plumbing as they are long lasting and will not emit any chemicals or toxins into your drinking water.

Tip #3 - Decking

Decking products are riddled with harmful chemicals like arsenic, insecticides and preservatives. When building a deck it is best to utilize sustainably harvested, rot resistant wood. Heat treated lumber is also free of chemical preservatives but does require a lot of energy. When sealing all decking wood a low VOC waterproofing treatment and stain should be used.

Tip #2 - Paint

Paints are known for causing a large range of health issues due to their emittance of several harmful chemicals. Paints can emit chemicals that cause migraines, dizziness, and even nervous system damage in some cases. Instead, paints with little to no VOCs like water bases latex paint or flat paint should be utilized. Green Seal 11 certified paint is another green option as it regulates harmful chemicals like mercury, carcinogens, lead, nonylphenol, and prohibits biocide preservatives.

Tip #1 - Wood Stains & Finishes

Wood stains are commonly made with chemical based solvents and harmful petroleum. Water based stains are the better option as they contain a low amount of VOCs and are a healthy alternative to finishes with heavy metals, phthalates, formaldehyde, glycol, as well as carcinogenic solvents.

[1]: The Greenguard Certification Program
[2]: 4 tips for picking healthy green flooring for your home | Green Home Guide