Green Building 101: A Guide to Sustainable, Holistic Home Building

With the public’s environmental conscience growing stronger, builders are now working with clients to create more eco-friendly homes and offices. These use materials and techniques designed to put less stress on the planet and operate with minimal resource consumption. Perhaps you're interested in a new home, or maybe you want to move your business into a better building. Either way, you want to use the best of the new green building techniques. The following are four steps to get you started on your sustainable building project.

Think Local

Many of the materials used in green building come from sources that are natural and plentiful—bamboo is an excellent example of this. While these materials have their benefits, consideration must be given to the cost and carbon output of transporting those materials to the site. Look for reliable suppliers of green materials made from local, renewable resources.

Reuse and Recycle

During the Great Depression, many people lived by the slogan, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." More and more, builders are adopting this motto and turning to materials that contain recycled industrial or consumer byproducts. This is a good place to start, but also remember to plan to use materials that can be reused or recycled at the end of your building's lifespan. A green building specialist from Marsh Building Products recommends looking for a green builder who is committed to using materials that contain recycled content. This will help you start green and stay green from the moment the foundation is laid.

Salvage or Refurbish

Not everything in your home or office needs to be new. You may be able to salvage Victorian stained glass windows from an old house that's being demolished or buy ovens for your start-up bakery from a restaurant that's recently upgraded its facilities.

Consider the Building Holistically

Building the green way involves more than just renewable or recycled materials, of course. You'll need to consider how the products you use affect other elements of the building, such as air quality, energy efficiency, and water conservation.

Gather and compare information

Gather data sheets, product specifications and test data for the materials and components you're considering. You'll also need information on local building codes and requirements. Once you have as much information as possible, compare the results. In some cases, it will be easy to eliminate options that are less green. In other cases, you may need technical specifications as well as descriptions of the product in order to make the best possible choice.

Green building, if done right, makes life easier for the planet and gives you a healthier environment in which to live or do business. Making the greener choice when building today can lead to a better world tomorrow.

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