Byline: Lora Volkert
When Lisa Scales found out her son's chronic ear infections were caused by environmental allergies, she tried to find out how to improve the air quality in her house.
I was just trying to tune up the world for him a little, she said.
The more she researched, the bigger she realized the scope of the problem was. Paints, carpets and wood finishes all give off gases with harmful chemicals, she learned. Carpet alone can give off gases for15 years. Indoor air quality is really quite bad, she said. After researching products that wouldn't inflame her son's allergies, Scales hit a snag. They simply weren't readily available in Boise. Scales made up her mind that Boise needed a green building supply store - and if no one else was going to open one, she would. I've got a little 'save the world' thing going, she said. But 'save the world' in a pragmatic way. I'm not going to tie myself to a tree. Through a mutual acquaintance, University of Idaho architecture professor Sherry McKibben, she met Heidi Caye, a student who was about to earn her master's degree in environmental science. Caye, who was fascinated by McKibben's class on sustainable development, eagerly agreed to join Scales in founding Green Foundations Building Center. Scales provided the financial backing, and Caye put in the time and energy. It's the first job I've ever loved, Caye said. They opened the store on Chinden Boulevard June 19. According to Scales, they had sales before the doors opened. Both homeowners and contractors buy supplies there. Green Foundations offers a plethora of green building products: * Sorghum, sunflower hull and wheat husk building panels made from agricultural waste. * Recycled denim insulation made from jeans manufacturers' scrap. *Cork panels made from post-industrial waste from wine cork producers. * Biodegradable linoleum. * Recycled glass tiles. * Fair-traded, sustainably harvested hardwood flooring lined with formaldehyde-free finish. * Bamboo flooring made from grasses that grow back quickly and don't encroach on panda habitat. * PaperStone countertop material made from recycled paper. * Chemical-free, all-natural wool carpeting. * Clay tiles made with 50 percent recycled industrial waste and low-toxic glazes. * American Pride paints with no offgassing - a term for chemicals in gas form that can have detrimental health effects. Green Foundations mixes them in-store and can match almost any paint manufacturer's hues, Caye said. Caye plans to hold Green 101 classes andother courses teaching homeowners how to apply natural clay plastersin their homes. She plans to invite designers, architects and engineers to the store to offer their own courses, and has begun stocking alibrary of books with green home remodeling ideas.