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Environmental Building Tips

People everywhere are beginning to understand the importance of recycling. Some are consistent about separating brown and green glassware, saving the cans, bagging the newspapers and rinsing out empty milk cartons before carelessly disposing of their collection. Many even choose appliances and products for their homes that are environmentally friendly. However, most people don't realize that the opportunity to live in an earth-friendly home begins before the day the builder even breaks ground.

It’s becoming increasingly popular for builders to minimize and recycle job-site waste during the building process. Furthermore, builders are trying to use building products made partially or completely from recycled materials. Whether you call it environmentally friendly, green or ecological, the interest to build new homes with Mother Earth in mind is growing. Choosing the right building materials can make your home more environmentally friendly and economical to maintain.

If you are in the market for having a new house built, you can easily limit the toll your building project takes on the environment with a few conscious thoughts. Start by carefully selecting your building materials. Products made partially or completely from recycled products are now available and they can be used on the foundation, the framing, the rafters and much more. Below are some examples of products that are now recycled and used in the home.

  • Ceramic tile is being made from old light bulbs.
  • Carpeting is being made from recycled soda bottles.
  • Interior wallboard is being made from newspaper and gypsum.
  • Recycled concrete is used for drywall.
  • Newspaper is being used to make insulation.
  • Reclaimed cotton is being used for insulation.
  • Sheep’s wool is being used for carpet.
  • Decking materials can include recycled milk cartons.
  • Low-density concrete can be recycled and used for insulation.
  • Paint is being made from old paint.
  • Shake shingles are being made from aluminum cans and nails from melted-down cars.
  • Fly ash from burned coal can be used to make concrete.
  • Bricks can be made of tightly compacted earth, clay and straw.
  • Linoleum is a natural flooring covering material made up of linseed oil, resins, and wood flour.
  • Steel is 100% recyclable and an extremely durable building material.

It’s important to pay close attention to the price of some of these products. Sometimes the cost of these materials can be significantly higher than their non-environmentally friendly counterparts. Be sure to do your research beforehand and choose the right building materials; without adding to the cost of construction.

In addition to “green” building products, another important consideration is waste disposal. Reducing waste at the job site benefits the environment. The materials used and wasted during construction and demolition account for an estimated 28 percent of municipal solid waste. Waste disposal can also account for a significant portion of building fees. By simply reducing and recycling job-site waste you can save an outstanding amount of money.

If green building is important to you then communicate with your builder and work out a plan to minimize waste at the site. A plan can be established for the subcontractors to follow. Not only with this benefit Mother Nature, but it will also benefit your pocketbook!

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