Checklist for Green Design

One of the biggest challenges we face in the green residential design part of Crescendo Design is distilling the vast quantity of information and materials available and establishing a sensible and accurate measurement of what it means to build green.  Each season, the market is saturated with new materials, each claiming to be greener than the next.  

In Madison, Wisconsin – or anywhere in Wisconsin for that matter, we’ve found the Green Built Home system to be a great starting point on the path toward a green home, remodel, or addition.  Their checklists are a particularly good way of educating yourself of the opportunities (link to checklists).

I also found this list from Metropolitan Home  (via Salk Lake Tribune) to be very consistent with the advice we share with potential and existing clients on a regular basis:

 * Make sure that the house is properly sealed up to reduce energy use, but also ventilate it properly to avoid indoor air pollutants.
    * Choose wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, Warner advises.
    * For your flooring, select recycled tiles or wool carpeting.
    * Remove your shoes at the door because toxins that get carried in them can worsen indoor air quality.
    * Put a high-efficiency toilet in your bathroom. Warner is fond of a new device called Aqus that recycles gray water from a single sink to a toilet up to 10 feet away.
    * Paint should be non-toxic and have low VOC (volatile organic compounds).
    * Buy durable products that last a long time to avoid having to replace them.
    Five questions to ask about green furniture
    The Sustainable Furniture Council suggests asking these questions the next time you buy furniture:
    * Where does the wood come from? Look for wood legally harvested from responsibly managed forests.
    * Is the wood certified by a third party? Some groups monitor standards for environmental sensitivity. Examples include the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
    * Is the manufacturer working to reduce energy use? Look for companies that are working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
    * Where was this furniture made? You know about reducing ”carbon miles” for your food. Consider it for your furniture, as well. Seek out products made close to home, using raw materials from within 500 miles.
    * Were any high Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) finishes used on this product? VOCs are harmful pollutants from certain types of wood finishes such as varnishes and lacquers that are released during the manufacturing process and into your home. Water-based finishes are the best choice for low or no VOCs.

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