Amicus Green Building Center’s Jason Holstine Shares his take with us on what is hot in green building for 2011.
When you think of green building and home energy efficiency in the DC Metro Area, Amicus Green Building Center should come to mind! The one stop shop for green building, healthy living and energy efficiency products and services for the DC Metro area is alive and well in Kensington, Maryland. Founder and President of Amicus Green Building Center, Jason Holstine shares his predictions for the hot green building items for the new year. The count down is on, take some tips from Jason as he walks us through his green building trending for 2011.
As we turn the corner into 2011, here are five trends we’re seeing in our corner of the green building world:
(5) Cork. It’s not just for wine bottles anymore. Cork floors have been around for more than 100 years, but they’re really catching on now. Why? Cork cells absorb energy—your joints will like that—and are warmer than other hard-surface floors. They are naturally antibacterial and fire resistant. They are long lasting and durable. Cork comes from the bark of an oak tree every 9 years—trees can be 200 years old and still producing—so they’re extremely environmentally sustainable. Be careful on the brand you pick—some contain formaldehyde in the binders or solvent-based stains—but, of course, none of our brands do.
(4) When is a no VOC paint not a healthy paint? When it still has “exempted VOCs” (the EPA doesn’t regulate volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) for indoor air quality, it regulates them because they react with sunlight to create ozone (smog); those that don’t react with sunlight aren’t regulated but may still create acute health problems), acetone, crystalline silica, ethylene glycol, and VOC-based colorants. Many paints labeled as “no VOC” or “low VOC” still have a bunch of chemicals like these that can be neurotoxic, cause headaches and breathing problems. Let alone the fact that they may be miserable performers once on the wall. Look for a paint that is truly zero VOC, nontoxic and a great performer—the Smithsonian does.
(3) LED’s. CFLs (those twisty lightbulbs) are so 2003. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are the way of the future—they use even less electricity than CFLs, can last decades, and they don’t have mercury. But, as with all new technologies, buyer beware. Some brands are certainly much better than others. Energy Star’s LED label comes out in August 2011. In the meantime, we’ve vetted and tracked customer experience on what to use where and the trusted brands.
(2) Cabinets. We’re seeing a big upswing in kitchen and bath remodeling projects. The recession notwithstanding, these are always popular projects. And cabinets are always big line items in a K&B project—and why not, since they take a lot of space, get major use and beating, and are a major source of offgassing chemicals and lots of wood. So they also present a great greening opportunity. We have very cool custom and production design options. Our EcoFriendly line of product cabinets offer several key hooks, all in one product: ZERO VOCs or formaldehyde; FSC-certified woods; made nearby in South Carolina (American jobs and less carbon footprint); and they’re really well made so they’ll last a very long time. Those are a lot of checkmarks on one product category. And our custom woodworkers make very slick styles out of bamboo, sorghum stalk, reclaimed walnut, recycled plastic panels, and other fantastic materials.
(1) The Package: People often get tripped up on what a green project should be—is it about health? Saving energy? Durability to last a long time? Making Al Gore happy? They think it’s too hard and will have to leave some of these worthy goals behind. The hard truth is a great green project is ALL OF THE ABOVE. The easy truth is that a well-done project is a package of ALL these great features and goals, the right design, products, and craftsmanship. A body of best practices has emerged to make this package easier to attain. Suppliers, designers, and contractors with the right experience, mindset and good project management can make all the difference in the world. So make sure you work with folks with strong experience and understanding of green elements and what can make or break a super project. Don’t compromise when you don’t have to—you and your home will be happier for it for a long time.
-Jason Holstine, Amicus Green Building Center