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For Earth Day: Eco Building Resources

For Earth Day: Eco Building Resources
Get eco-friendly with these tips.
In honor of Earth Day, April 22, 2016, here's a brief round up of green building sources to help you start greening the home building and outfitting process.

The easiest way to freshen an interior is with paint, but many paints contain harmful chemicals that can offgass, so look for earth-friendly alternatives. 

No VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, which is especially important for indoor air quality, is now widely available. Yolo Colorhouse, for example, offers an especially appealing nature-based spectrum of no VOC paints; one of their trending hues for spring 2016 is shown at the top of this post. And interior designer Vicki Simon used Yolo Colorhouse paints in the kitchen shown here (both photos, courtesy Colorhouse). The Yolo website also offers extensive diy help with home projects. Earth friendly paint choices are expanding all the time, and include Ecos Paints; Benjamin Moore's Natura Zero VOC and Zero Emissions Paint; and The Real Milk Paint Co., just to name a few.

For more general sources of earth-friendly goods, consider the following:

Green Depot carries earth-friendly flooring, cabinetry, counters, fixtures, paints, and more, online and with stores in Washington, Oregon, Delaware, New Hampshire, New York, and

Pennsylvania. Some of the items that recently caught my eye include Teragren's parquet pattern end-

grain bamboo countertops, and Vetrazzo's countertops made from 85% recycled glass in a wide array of colors.

Green Building Supply is based in Iowa but also offers online ordering. Here's a handsome example of eco-

friendly flooring used in a bedroom. It's Forbo Marmoleum (marmoleum is made from linseed oil, a natural ingredient). A type of linoleum and not a new material, it now comes in a very wide range of colors and patterns. Click-together planks, as shown in this example, allow for easy installation. Resilient cork flooring

(bark from the cork oak tree made into sheets and tiles or planks) also comes in a huge range of natural patterns and natural hues, and offers both thermal and sound insulation. This example is by Nova Cork.

An expanding variety of recycled woods are now available, through companies like Pioneer Millworks. These companies reclaim and refinish wood from old agricultural buildings, barns, schools, distilleries and other structures slated for demolition. One of the more unusual such products is recycled gym flooring, 

complete with remnants of the original line markings, like this example -- so you can give your family room a little extra bounce! Now where was that "free throw line"? (Photo courtesy Pioneer Millworks.)

Low-flow and dual-flush toilets are now routine, but here’s a water saving example that has also been shown

at recent home builder shows. It uses the run-off from the sink to fill the toilet tank. It’s from a company called Caroma, which also offers a variety of other bathroom sinks. Something to consider, say, for a getaway cabin.

If you are interested in recycled home products consider Habitat for Humanity's ReStores, which are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell "gently used" furniture, appliances, home accessories, and building materials.

For a collection of Energy-Efficient House Plans click here.

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