Going Green

(downloadable pdf version of this article)

Going Green Going Green (182 KB)

These days, the word “green” is used a lot in reference to environmentally friendly habits and products. It has seeped into our homes, into our everyday vocabularies with an almost peculiar intensity, and it is no longer strictly reserved for granola hippies and radical activists. Below you will find a few reasons why you should consider using green building techniques and materials for your garage project.

First, their use supports a healthy planet. For example, many manufacturers these days are going to great lengths to reduce their environmental impact in various ways. These practices include utilizing alternative energy sources for power (such as solar or wind), recycling within the manufacturing process, and utilizing local materials as opposed to ones that have to be shipped from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. As consumers, we are often times more focused on the product and the price, and not how it was actually made. But the manufacturing process can be very detrimental to the environment, so it is important to take this into consideration when choosing a product. You can research a lot of this information on the manufacturer’s website. Most manufacturers that are utilizing “green” techniques are very proud of this fact, and will therefore have a section on their site devoted to explaining their processes.

Second, the use of green materials can be better for your health. If you plan on painting, then you should be aware that most of the paint you purchase at your local hardware store is probably loaded with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – chemicals added to paint for various reasons (to help keep the paint in liquid form, to extend shelf-life, etc). VOCs have been linked to a host of health problems, from headaches and watery eyes to more serious issues such as cancer. See Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volatile_organic_compound for additional information on the dangers of VOCs. Another building material that can be hazardous to your health is pressed board products such as particleboard and medium density fiberboard (MDF). These products tend to use adhesives containing urea formaldehyde (UF) to bind them together. Health problems associated with urea formaldehyde include eye, nose, and throat irritation, and it has even been linked to cancer in animals. Look for products that do not use urea formaldehyde, or look for “exterior grade” pressed wood products. Rather than containing UF, exterior grade products will probably contain phenol-formaldehyde (PF), which tends to emit formaldehyde at much lower rates. Remember, for almost every traditional building material, there is a ”green” or environmentally friendly product that is just as good or even better!

These are just a handful of the many reasons why choosing “green” products is worth the investment. At this point in time, the eco-friendly products may dig a little deeper into your wallet, but the economics behind it are simple…as more people continue to buy “green” products, it will demonstrate that there is a growing consumer demand for them. This will inevitably lead to the introduction of more eco-friendly products into the marketplace, and we, the consumers, will ultimately reap the financial benefits. We win (and so does the planet).