California?s leading green building expert offers guidance for buying eco-friendly products Ever wonder if that sheet of plywood or tile sealer that you?re using in your home renovation is bad for the environment or your family" We did the research to assemble a cheat sheet for purchasing more "green" building materials and finishes. For help, we queried Amy Dryden, a Senior Program Manager in Innovation and Technology at Build It Green.
Build It Green is a California-based nonprofit that has a history of working with the construction industry to formulate green building practices and certifications "that will work on the ground," says Dryden. "The organization started at a time when there were not green building standards for residential construction."
That ingenuity paid off in 2010, when Build It Green saw their guidelines get rolled into the California Green Building Standards Code, the first statewide green building code in the United States.
The term "green" can be confusing, so Dryden cleared it up: "Green building is defined as community benefit, energy efficiency, indoor air quality and health, and resource and water conservation," she says. "It?s a really holistic approach to a building so we can maximize the benefits."
The materials and finishes guidelines here tend to meet two of these criteria ? healthy air quality and reduced impact on natural resources.
A note on VOCs:
These days, if we?re talking about air quality, we?re often talking about VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. According to the EPA, "VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects." Higher concentrations of VOCs are typically found indoors, which is worrisome since we spend so much time inside.
"When we?re thinking about VOCs, we think about reducing the source of them, and mitigating whatever you have through ventilation and filtration,&q...