Green products fall under these 5 categories:
Products Made with Recycled, Salvaged or Agricultural
That Conserve Natural Resources
3. Products That Avoid Toxic or Other Emissions
4. Products That Save Energy or Water
5. Products That Contribute to a Safe, Healthy
||1. Products Made with Recycled,
Salvaged or Agricultural Waste Content
- Products with pre-consumer recycled content
- Pre-consumer (also called "post-industrial") recycling refers to the
use of industrial by-products, as distinguished from material that has
been in consumer use. Iron-ore slag used to make mineral wool insulation,
fly ash used to make concrete, and PVC scrap from pipe manufacture used
to make shingles are examples of post-industrial recycled materials.
- Salvaged products - Products reused.
Many salvaged materials used in buildings (bricks, millwork, framing
lumber, plumbing fixtures, and period hardware) can be found in local
regional salvage yards.
- Products with post-consumer recycled content
- Recycled content is an important feature of many green products. From
an environmental standpoint, post-consumer is preferable to pre-consumer
recycled content, because post-consumer recycled materials are more
likely to be diverted from landfills.
- Products made from agricultural waste material
- Most of these are made from straw-the stems left after harvesting
cereal grains. Citrus oil, a waste product from orange and lemon juice
extraction, is also used in some green products, but such products usually
include other agricultural oils as well and are also lumped under Rapidly
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||2. Products That Conserve
- Products that reduce material use
- Products meeting this criteria may not be distinctly green on their
own but because of resource efficiency benefits that they make possible
are considered green.
- Products with exceptional durability or low
maintenance requirements - These products are environmentally
attractive because they need to be replaced less frequently, or their
maintenance has very low impact. Sometimes, durability is a contributing
factor to the green designation but may not be enough to distinguish
the product as green on its own. This criterion is highly variable by
product type. Included in this category are such products as fiber-cement
siding, fiberglass windows, slate shingles, and vitrified-clay waste
- Certified wood products - Third-party forest certification is the best way to ensure that wood products come from well-managed forests. Wood products must go through a chain-of-custody certification process. A few manufactured wood products, including engineered lumber and particleboard or MDF, can be included if they have other environmental advantages-such as absence of formaldehyde binders.
- Rapidly renewable products - Rapidly
renewable materials are distinguished from wood by the shorter harvest
rotation-typically 10 years or less. They are biodegradable, often (but
not always) low in VOC emissions, and generally produced from agricultural
crops. Because sunlight is generally the primary energy input (via photosynthesis),
these products may be less energy-intensive to produce-though transportation
and processing energy use must be considered. Examples include linoleum,
form-release agents made from plant oils, natural paints, geotextile
fabrics from coir and jute, cork, and such textiles as organic cotton,
wool, and sisal. Note that not all rapidly renewable materials are included
-non-organic cotton, for example, is highly pesticide-intensive. In
some cases, even though a product qualifies for by virtue of its natural
raw materials, it may have negatives that render it inappropriate for
certain uses-such as high VOC levels that cause problems for people
with chemical sensitivities.
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||3. Products That Avoid Toxic
or Other Emissions
- Natural or minimally processed products
- Products that are natural or minimally processed can be green because
of low energy use and low risk of chemical releases during manufacture.
These can include wood products, agricultural or nonagricultural plant
products, and mineral products such as natural stone and slate shingles.
- Alternatives to ozone-depleting substances
- Included are categories where the majority of products still contain
or use HCFCs.
- Alternatives to hazardous products -
Some materials provide a better alternative in an application dominated
by products for which there are concerns about toxic constituents, intermediaries,
or by-products. Fluorescent lamps with low mercury levels are included
here, along with form release agents that won't contaminate water or
soils with toxicants. Also included here are alternatives to products
made with chlorinated hydrocarbons such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
and brominated fire retardants.
- Products that reduce or eliminate pesticide
treatments - Periodic pesticide treatment around buildings can
be a significant health and environmental hazard. The use of certain
products can obviate the need for pesticide treatments, and such products
are therefore considered green. Examples include physical termite barriers,
borate-treated building products, and bait systems that eliminate the
need for broad-based pesticide application.
- Products that reduce storm water pollution
- Porous paving products and green (vegetated) roofing systems result
in less stormwater runoff and thereby reduce surface water pollution.
Storm water treatment systems reduce pollutant levels in any water that
- Products that reduce impacts from construction
or demolition activities - Included here are various erosion-control
products, foundation products that eliminate the need for excavation,
and exterior stains that result in lower VOC emissions into the atmosphere.
Fluorescent lamp and ballast recyclers and low-mercury fluorescent lamps
reduce environmental impacts during demolition (as well as renovation).
- Products that reduce pollution or waste from
operations - Alternative wastewater disposal systems reduce
groundwater pollution by decomposing organic wastes or removing nutrients
more effectively. Masonry fireplaces burn fuel-wood more completely
with fewer emissions than conventional fireplaces and wood stoves. Recycling
bins and compost systems enable occupants to reduce their solid waste
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||4. Products That Save Energy
- Building components that reduce heating and
cooling loads - Examples include structural insulated panels
(SIPs), insulated concrete forms (ICFs), autoclaved aerated concrete
(AAC) blocks, and high-performance windows and glazings. In the case
of windows, the base standard for energy performance of windows is an
NFRC-rated unit U-factor. If the windows are made from an environmentally
attractive material (e.g., high recycled content or superb durability),
the energy standard can be less stringent. If the frame material is
nongreen, such as PVC (vinyl), the energy standard should be more stringent.
- Equipment that conserves energy and manages
loads - With energy-consuming equipment, such as water heaters
and refrigerators, dishwashers, and clothes washers,etc you can use
standards set by Energy Star to judge the water or energy savings.
- Renewable energy and fuel cell equipment
- Equipment and products that enable us to use renewable energy instead
of fossil fuels and conventional electricity are highly beneficial from
an environmental standpoint. Examples include solar water heaters, photovoltaic
systems, and wind turbines. Fuel cells are also included here, even
though fuel cells today nearly always use natural gas or another fossil
fuel as the hydrogen source-they are considered green because emissions
are lower than combustion-based equipment and because the use of fuel
cells will help us eventually move beyond fossil fuel dependence.
- Fixtures and equipment that conserve water
- All toilets and most showerheads today meet the federal water efficiency
standards, some are more efficient than others but not all of these
products perform the same.
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||5. Products That Contribute
to a Safe, Healthy Built Environment
- Products that do not release significant pollutants
into the building - Included here are zero- and low-VOC paints,
caulks, and adhesives, as well as products with very low emissions,
such as nonformaldehyde manufactured wood products.
- Products that block the introduction, development,
or spread of indoor contaminants - Certain materials and products
are green because they prevent the generation or introduction of pollutants-especially
biological contaminants-into occupied space.
- Products that remove indoor pollutants
- Certain ventilation products, filters, radon mitigation equipment,
and other equipment and devices that help to remove pollutants or introduce
fresh air. Because ventilation equipment is now fairly standard, only
products that are particularly efficient or quiet, or that have other
environmental benefits are considered green.
- Products that warn occupants of health hazards
in the building - Included here are carbon monoxide (CO) detectors,
lead paint test kits, and other IAQ test kits.
- Products that improve light quality
- There is a growing body of evidence that natural daylight is beneficial
to our health and productivity. Products that enable us to bring daylight
into a building, including tubular skylights, specialized commercial
skylights, and fiber-optic daylighting systems, are all green by nature.
- Products that help control noise - Noise,
both from indoor and outside sources, adds to stress and discomfort.
A wide range of products are available to help absorb noise, prevent
it from spreading, masking it, and even reducing it with sound-cancellation
- Products that enhance community well-being
- Looking beyond the walls of a building, many products can contribute
to safer neighborhoods, increasing walkability and making high-density
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||Source: US Green Building Council, Green Building Inc., NAHB, ENERGY STAR