Want a living space that costs less to operate, lasts longer, and keeps the occupants healthy? Ofcourse we do!
Buildings in the U.S. alone account for:
60% building material in the landfill,
45% of global CO2 emissions
45% of global Energy consumption,
40% of all freshwater consumption,
70% of global timber consumption,
40% of all human-produced wastes
50% of the world’s materials
A building that is Green or Eco-friendly, reduces or eliminates it’s environmental impact. We spend 90% of our time indoors which means anywhere we are – Home or Office, that space should be a nurturing sanctuary for us. Not a breeding ground for mold and mildew combined with toxic volatile organic compounds (VOC) and other environmental toxins and dangerous gases.
A healthy living space, for the occupant and the planet, falls into the following categories:
INDOOR AIR QUALITY:
- Keep it Clean, Simple and De-Cluttered: Which translates to less dust, less clutter, less stuff. Researchers and medical experts have proven that dust sensitizes individuals and can trigger asthma attacks. Dust generally comes from two sources: 1) outdoor particles that are tracked in on shoes or 2) drawn in through heating and ventilation systems or air leakage
- Good Mechanical and Natural ventilation is essential.
- Check your filters.
- Toxin free:
- Eliminate/Reduce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Some types of flooring and the adhesives used to attach them can emit VOCs. “Offgassing” refers to the release of gases during the aging and deterioration of a material. The Carpet and Rug Institute had created standards for low-VOC carpets and rugs. Other toxins can be asbestos, lead and pesticides.
- No combustion appliances. Use sealed combustion appliances only.
- Use Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors – CO is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas and because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. Products that can create carbon monoxide include cars in an attached garage (when the engine is warming up), gas stoves, gas water heaters, gas furnaces with a cracked heat exchanger or a leaking chimney, non-electric space heaters, gas fireplaces, and Tobacco smoke.
- Treat Humidity and Mold issues.
- Use Pesticides and Cleaners that are non-toxic. Check the list on our Facebook page under discussion board topic: Natural Cleaning Alternatives and Pesticide Alternatives.
- Reduce water usage:
- Identify and fix plumbing leaks
- Run dishes & laundry only with full load
- Take shorter showers
- Look into Graywater systems and Rainwater harvesting.
- Use water efficient fixtures and appliances such as – Dishwasher, Clothes Washer, Faucets, Shower-heads, Toilets
- Very efficient irrigation system, like drip irrigation. Automated controls.
- Xeriscaping – Using drought tolerant, Native CA plants. These are sustainable, pest and disease resistant, easy to grow, require little water and maintenance, come in a great variety of colors and textures and usually have vibrant blooms. Water conservation is an essential part of creating and maintaining sustainable landscapes. I personally love to propagate Succulents.
- Reduce energy usage:
- Tight building envelope – means very little air leaks into or out of your home. When air leaks are minimal, your utility bills are decreased.
- Performance testing. Get an Home Energy Audit. When done by a professional, can minimize the energy costs.
- Take advantage of “low hanging fruit” first –
- Open the windows.
- I often sit on the North side of the house during summers and the South side during winters. It’s a matter of understanding simply Building orientation.
- Inspect Ducts for leaks and seal them. As much as 40% of a home’s heating and cooling loss is due to air leakage.
- Size systems and appliances appropriately
- Use very efficient lighting, heating, ventilation, appliances
- Consider renewable energy: Solar, Wind, Geothermal.
“Worldwide, for every truckload of product with lasting value, we produce 32 truckloads of waste. We cannot continue to dig up the earth and turn it to waste.” – Ray Anderson.
- Local: Use locally grown and manufactured products.
- Select products that:
- Use less materials (support efficient construction)
- Durable – Built to last and endure passing trends
- 3rd party Certified (Beware of Green-Washing!)
- Rapidly renewable
- Made of recycled content
- Recyclable (Cradle-to-Cradle)
Check out this video on Benefits of LEED certified homes from US Green Building Council (USBGC):
SOME IMPORTANT RESOURCES:
- US Environmental Protection Agency – Indoor Air Quality – www.epa.gov/iaq
- American Lung Association – Health House – www.healthhouse.org
- American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc – www.ashrae.org
- Affordable Comfort – www.affordablecomfort.org
- Building Science Corporation – www.buildingscience.com
- Carpet and Rug Institute – Green Label Program – www.carpet-rug.com/drill_down_2.cfm?page=8&sub=4&requesttimeout=350
- US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Environmental Health) – www.cdc.gov/nceh/
- US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control – www.hud.gov/offices/lead/index.cfm
Read about various topic by Naz Saeed from Healthy Home Design blog:
3. Tips to Green your Office.