Marketing for “green” products is the thing to be pushed in our industry. With the combination of increasing fuel prices, a faltering economy and a growing interest in the environment by the general public, marketing and advertising departments have noticed. Beware!

It can be a bit confusing out there. Here is an applicable analogy. Walking down the aisles in the grocery store you notice that lots of products have labels with claims of being natural or organic. The United State Department of Agriculture promulgated a set of rules and standards that must be met to be certified as organic. But there are no such standards for “natural”. Wood, arsenic and strychnine are all natural but who would want that in your morning cereal. But NATURAL sounds good even if it really has no meaning – at least in labeling and marketing.

This is quickly becoming the case with building products claiming to be GREEN. Here is an important question for you – WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN GREEN?
• You want your energy bills to go down.
• You worry about the indoor air quality in your home.
• You are concerned about our planet and how we are leaving it for our grandchildren.
Obviously it might be some combination of all or some of the above or just one. But it is important to know what your reasons and values are as they will determine just how GREEN you really want to be and why.

For Example -
Kitchen and bathroom counter tops in NATURAL STONE are currently preferred by 65% of U.S. consumers. Note that word natural. Surely granite, marble, soap stone or slate are green – aren’t they? Depending upon how you think of green, yes, but mostly no. It is the case that stone is already there in the earth and no petro-chemical industrial base was used to manufacture the materials. Further these tops will likely long outlast the cabinets and even the kitchens and baths they are located in. However quarries are inherently damaging to the environment – creating water pollution, habitat destruction and long term devastation of the quarrying area. Also huge amounts of fuel are needed to quarry, transport (often from across the ocean), then cut and polish that natural stone. By the time that natural stone counter top is installed in your kitchen there is little green about it.

For you green might simply mean making certain that your home is energy efficient – good windows, doors, insulation and caulking. Perhaps additionally it might be changing out to a very high efficient heat plant and upgrading appliances and hot water heaters to ones of better efficiency (look for the Energy Star rating).

For others, it is a further step such as selecting insulation based upon its source and the amount of energy that goes into producing it. Thus vegetable based foams and recycled cellulose wins over petroleum based foams and fiberglass.

For still others, it is making certain that coatings such as paints, sealers etc. used are water based and zero content VOCs and carcinogenetic materials. Or that hardwood floors are not from slow growing trees or exotic endangered species or tropical rain forests. This might mean that you are careful in only using reclaimed hardwood flooring or bamboo or fast growing hybrids such as Lyptus.

For carpeting, some hail that they have only natural fibers, others that they are made from corn, and others that they have a great carpet recycling program. Most of this is still more hype than good green practices. Natural fibers might have been treated with petro-chemicals to keep them from staining or the coloring agents used might be petroleum based. The backing and the glues used may or may not be green. Corn is a product farmed using large amounts of petroleum products for fuels, herbicides and insecticides. Corn based carpet is competing for food uses for corn and is not recyclable. As for recycled products (made from old carpeting), there is literally millions of tons of old carpet landfilled annually. Yes some of it can go to recycling that does not mean the carpet manufacturer will be by for your old carpet.

Being Green is not easy! Manufacturers and their marketing departments are not making it any easier for the consumer. We can be of assistance in helping you sort it out for your remodeling project.

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