|Innovation In Design
Building Materials, Components and Considerations
LEED certified buildings have specific standards in several areas regarding the construction materials that are used and how the components themselves are made and where.
The "where" aspect of LEED encourages conservation from the very beginning of the process. Utilizing materials that are actually produced close to the construction site saves fuel. Saving fuel reduces carbon emissions as well as other by-products of fossil-fuel use for transporting goods. Whether by truck, train or plane, reducing the distance from where goods are made to where they will be used does more than save money. It's Green!
Many of the latest products in construction are intended to reduce the amount of lumber needed in order to conserve trees. For example, the use of fast growing trees that can be "chipped" to create sheets of wood known as OSB - or Oriented Strand Board, has become the standard alternative to using plywood. The problem with OSB is that the adhesives used to create the board and give it strength are both energy intensive and chemically unfriendly to the environment. Such products tend to "outgas" - leaching base chemical vapors for years, and this makes up an element of both our exterior and interior environment.
Another area includes sealants and protective coatings (paints). Many products in these categories vent vapors known as Volatile Organic Compounds, also known as VOCs. Reducing or eliminating the use of products that emit VOCs is a significant criteria for achieving LEED certification. Yes, products with near zero or zero emissions are expensive, and they require maintenance applications more often than competing products. However, creating a Green environment is as much about doing our part locally as it is setting an example. Minor changes in the way things are done compared to the way they used to be done helps our environment and establishes behaviors that are beneficial for ourselves, our neighbors and our planet.
Keeping it Clean, Keeping it Green
Construction materials are just one aspect of the whole. What about keeping it Clean & Green once you move into the new space? Once again, there are many building maintenance products to choose from that do not contribute harmful chemicals to the surrounding area's air quality or threaten to pollute water when cleaning (gray) water is disposed of. Janitorial services will be provided by a company that is qualified to follow LEED guidelines regarding materials and techniques in the new building. These greener products make use of naturally based solvents and biodegradable surfactants. Some choices you can make at home include substituting vinegar for ammonia in your window cleaning solutions, and using detergent formulas optimized for cold water washing of clothes.
Cleaning Green is something in which everyone can participate to help make a difference. If every home cleaned Green, the contribution to reducing water and air contaminants would be enormous. Everyone has a part to play!