10 Ways to PlanIt Greener
January 13, 2009 (WPVI) -- The following are helpful tips and information on how you can make your home Green.
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1. Energy Efficient Appliances: The refrigerator is one of the home's highest consumers of energy. Looking for the Energy Star® sticker on all your kitchen appliances is a great way of making your kitchen greener. Be sure to use the water and energy-saving settings on your refrigerator and dishwasher as much as possible.
2. Lighting: Just changing your light bulbs to the funny looking swirls should show significant savings on your electric bill. Most standard fixtures are compatible with compact fluorescents (CFLs) which use up to 75% of the electricity that incandescent bulbs use. CFL technology has come a long way, casting either cool or warm tones and are available in a wide range of wattage and lumens. While the initial cost of these bulbs is slightly higher, they last eight times as long.
Note: Designing a home with good natural lighting cuts down on the need to use electricity.
3. Biodegradable Cleaning Products: Chemical sensitivity is linked to many illnesses. Conventional cleaning products are known to pollute our waterways and destroy wildlife. There are several good biodegradable product lines available that break down naturally and are harmless to the user and to the environment. And there are many ways to use common supplies like baking soda and vinegar!
4. Indoor air quality: Building or remodeling your kitchen can produce toxins that are harmful to indoor air quality. To reduce this problem there are low-toxicity finishes available on the market. Look for products that have water based adhesives and finishes and ones that don't have synthetic formaldehyde resins. It's all about choice.
5. Green Cabinetry: There are green kitchen cabinet options available on the market today. Many of the options are made from rapidly renewable resources and salvaged materials. Wheatboard cabinets, for example, are covered with wood veneers. Another quick growing renewable resource used for cabinets and flooring is bamboo.
6. Skip the bottled water: Filter your tap water for drinking rather than using bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it produces large amounts of container waste.
7. Green Flooring: Cork flooring is durable, comfortable under foot and is a terrific insulator for both sound and heat. Cork is also hypoallergenic and environmentally friendly.Marmoleum is a natural linoleum product. It is extremely durable and is all naturally made from flax, wood flour and rosins. No adhesives are required and it is non-toxic and resistant to bacteria growth.Concrete is another smart Green kitchen product. It does not give off harmful fumes because it doesn't contain glues or laminates. There are many patterned concrete flooring options available. Concrete is also commonly used in countertop applications. Bamboo is a fast growth renewable materials that is both durable and easy to clean, and even resistant to bacteria growth. It is readily available and affordable.
8. Countertops and backsplashes are going Green too. Vetrazzo is an attractive solid terrazzo countertop made from recycled glass and cast concrete. Vetrazzo is as tough as granite, but not as porous as marble, making it a strong Green choice for the kitchen. PaperStone, made of 100% recycled newspapers is incredibly durable and looks like soapstone! There are a number of eco-friendly companies out there that make glass tiles out of recycled glass that make stunning backsplashes. Glass tiles do not give off emissions and they won't damage indoor air quality.
9. Buy Local and Organic: Buying local keeps fuel usage at a minimum. It also supports local economy and encourages local farming. Buying organic is the healthy choice, as these foods are produced without chemical pesticides and herbicides, as well as without antibiotics and hormones. These practices create healthier bodies and a healthier planet for us all. Check out your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
10. Solar Water Heating: can save your household up to 35% of its energy use and up to 80 TONs of carbon dioxide from entering our environment over the life of the system. There is a federal tax credit and many states also offer tax credits. These systems actually pay for themselves and then make money!
COMMON GREEN TERMS
Biodegradable - A material or substance which, when left exposed to nature, will decompose without harmful effects to the environment.
Certified Wood - Under the guidance of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), wood-based materials used in building construction that are supplied from sources that comply with sustainable forestry practices, protecting trees, wildlife habitat, streams and soil.
Daylighting - Natural daylight introduced into interior spaces and controlled specifically to reduce levels of electric lighting, minimize glare and optimize lighting quality.
Embodied Energy - All the energy used to grow, extract and manufacture a product including the amount of energy needed to transport it to the jobsite and complete the installation.
Energy Efficient - Products and systems that use less energy to perform as well or better than standard products. While some have higher up-front costs, energy-efficient products cost less to operate over their lifetime.
Energy Star® Rating - The label given by the EPA and the US Department of Energy (DOE) to appliances and products that exceed federal energy efficiency standards. This label helps consumers identify products that will save energy and money.
Environmentally Friendly - A term that refers to the degree to which a product may harm the environment, including the biosphere, soil, water and air.
GreenGuard" - Established performance-based standards to define goods such as building materials, interior furnishings, furniture, cleaning and maintenance products, electronic equipment and personal care products with low chemical and particle emissions for use indoors.
High Performance Green Building - These buildings include design features that conserve water and energy; use space, materials and resources efficiently; minimize construction waste; and create healthy indoor environments.
Hydro chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) - Though not without some negative environmental impacts, these substances are used to replace CFCs because they are less damaging to the ozone layer.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) - The supply and introduction of adequate air for ventilation and control of airborne contaminants, acceptable temperatures and relative humidity.
LEED" - The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Building Rating System sets industry standards for green building design.
Ozone Layer - Defined by the EPA as the protective layer of atmosphere, 15 miles above the ground, that absorbs some of the sun's ultraviolet rays and reduces the amount of potentially harmful radiation reaching the Earth's surface.
Photovoltaic (PV) - The capacity of photocells to generate electricity from the sun's energy. PV panels are incorporated into building design.
Rapidly Renewable - Materials that are not depleted when used, but are typically harvested from fast growing sources and do not require unnecessary chemical support (example: bamboo, flax, wool).
Recyclability - The ability of a product or material to be recovered or diverted from the solid waste stream.
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