Green is in high demand. Today’s homeowner faces skyrocketing energy prices and indoor health hazards and lives with the pressing fear of global warming.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns about the health effects of poor Indoor Air Quality from the off-gassing of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Materials such as insulation, paints, stains, carpeting, flooring and countertops can produce significant off-gassing in the home so manufacturers have responded with some environmentally friendly innovations.
The idea behind green building is to increase the efficiency of buildings and their use of resources like energy, water and building materials to protect human health and the environment. The U.S. Green Building Council is leading the movement with its LEED program — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The LEED Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings.
LEED promotes sustainability through five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Fortunately, the list of product offerings that address these topics is constantly growing.
A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide. Fiberglass insulation tends to have a high carbon footprint from energy intensive production, and some have associated health concerns in terms of off-gassing. Now there are some interesting insulation alternatives to pick from.
Dryvit Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS) is a cladding system for commercial and residential construction, offering a highly energy-efficient, lightweight engineered cladding system in a vast array of finish options. Dryvit is available in a number of system configurations to match any climate or building condition. In testing by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Dryvit proved to be 84 percent more energy efficient than the next best performing cladding material. When a building uses Dryvit’s systems, energy consumption for heating and cooling the building is reduced on average by 20 to 40 percent.
Tex-Cote Super-Cote Cool Wall coatings from Textured Coatings of America Inc. have been shown to reduce air-conditioning demand by nearly 22 percent. The exterior coating’s heat reflective finish reduces exterior wall temperatures by as much as 40 degrees F when compared to traditional paints and coatings, and they lower interior temperatures in both concrete block and stucco and wood-frame homes. The coatings utilize the same heat reflective technology used by the military to reduce the heat signature of planes and other vehicles. Since the increase in reflectivity occurs in the infrared spectrum, it is invisible to the naked eye. These thick coatings are available in more than 500 heat reflective colors and can be applied to virtually any type of surface including stucco, wood, masonry and fiber cement.
“A dark-colored home absorbs as much as 90 percent of the solar radiation that strikes it, and even white walls can absorb 70 percent of the solar radiation that strikes them,” explains Jay Haines, president and chief executive officer of Textured Coatings of America Inc. “By reflecting this infrared radiation rather than absorbing it, the Cool Wall exterior coatings dramatically reduce the load on a home’s air-conditioning system.”
InsultCot offers insulation made from 80 percent cotton fibers and 20 percent polyester. The product is safe, efficient and environmentally friendly. InsulCot insulation contains no hazardous materials and requires no respiratory or safety equipment for installation. And installing InsulCot allows homeowners to claim a tax credit of 10 percent of the cost of energy saving home improvements.