The material should be
durable. Durable materials are resource and energy efficient because they
do not have to be replaced or sent to landfills. Using this criteria a
wood floor is more durable than a laminate floor because it can be
refinished when it gets worn out. No new trees have to be cut down to
replace it and there are sustainable and low VOC finishes that can be
applied to it. A new wood floor may be deemed a green product by virtue of
its durability. Especially if the wood is salvaged or FSC certified.
The material should
contain zero or minimal Red List items as specificd by the Cascadia Green
Building Council’s Living Building Challenge. Red List items include
mercury, cadmium, formaldehyde, lead, polyurethane, neoprene, and other
chemical alphabet items that are toxic to humans and the planet.
Insulation with formaldehyde would be avoided as would finishes that
contained polyurethane. Not building with these materials is a huge step
Products should be
produced within an appropriate radius to the site where the material will
be used. The Living Building Challenge specifies a 1000 mile radius for
lightweight materials, 500 miles for medium weight materials and 250 miles
for heavy materials. For the Pacific Northwest it means stone, granite or
concrete should come from the Pacific Northwest and nothing should come
from the East Coast. Knowing where materials are created and making
choices based on radius as well as other criteria will help to determine a
product or material’s sustainability.
A material should be
produced responsibly. The company creating the product should be energy
and resource efficient. It should recycle, strive for zero landfill
contributions, and provide civilized work spaces for it’s employees. It
should practice a green model of conducting business.
A company that works
to minimize its carbon footprint would work to create a truly sustainable
product. It should be certified
sustainable. Wood can be certified FSC, other products could be certified
by third parties as well. To date, certification processes are
still being created and agreed to in the industry. As certification
becomes the norm rather than the anomaly it should be considered as a
criteria to define green.
We can help you pick green products based on your preferences. Call us for a free consultation 503.320.1242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org