What defines “Building Green”?

What defines "Building Green"?

We own a beautiful lot in the mountains of North Carolina, the Appalachian Mountains. If you want to sit and appreciate one spectacular wonder of Earth, visit the Appalachian Mountains.

My goal is to build a home there and I plan to Build Green. In beginning my research, I’ve found that there’s no end to the research! So, I’ve started by asking what exactly is “Green”? What makes a product Green? How do you evaluate product Greenness? Can you make a product Greener? And, how do I find Green products?

Did you know that, not only what a material is but where it comes from helps determine whether or not it’s Green? Recycled plastics to make decking material maybe considered Green while Bamboo shipped from 1/2 way around the world may not be the best Green choice because of the carbon footprint from shipping.

And reusing a product saves resources and energy so that’s Green. Shopping salvage yards is a wonderful way to shop Green. Products with recycled post-consumer products keep the materials from landfills so use recycled anytime you can. Products that preserve natural resources are considered Green. Products with low maintenance and high durability because they need to be replaced less frequently and/or their maintenance has low impact may be Green.

Wood with an “FSC” rating means that it comes from a well managed forest. FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council. I didn’t even know they exist but I’m glad they do.

Bamboo can be a good wood choice because it grows quickly and is considered “rapidly renewable”. What categorizes a material as “rapidly renewable”? Resources that have a short harvest rotation, typically 10 years or less, are biodegradable and are generally produced from agricultural crops. However, to determine whether your choice will be labeled “Green”, transportation and processing energy must also be considered.

Equipment and products that use renewable energy instead of fossil fuels and conventional electricity such as solar hot water heaters, solar panels and wind turbines are Green. Renewable energy in place of fossil fuel dependence is always a good choice.

Toilets that offer a 20% reduction in water usage and water efficient showerheads are Green.

The determination of Green building products continues:
products that do not release pollutants into the building
products that remove indoor pollutants
products that improve light quality
products that control noise
salvaged and recycled products
products that conserve natural resources
products that save energy or water
products that avoid toxic or other emissions

Natural products or ones that are minimally processed can be green because of low energy use. They also typically have a low risk of chemical release during the manufacturing process, for example, natural stone or slate shingles.

So many things to consider – construction impact, waste and pollution – windows, foundation, walls, flooring, decking, paints. I’m reading and researching and will continue to write articles as I learn. This will be a 2 year project for me from now until completion of my mountain home. There is so much to learn, so much to consider.

Much of what was written here can be read in many articles, but I used the post on Building Green. They are a fantastic resource.

Please tell me what you know about building green.

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