With Earth Day right around the corner, Bloomberg Businessweek highlights Green Depot as an industry leader in the flourishing world of green building. The article covers the inspiring story of our founder Sarah Beatty, the burgeoning growth of the green building industry, and Sarah’s work with the American Sustainable Business Council fighting for safer chemical legislation.
Sometimes the changes in our global climate seem like so large of a problem that it can be hard to imagine how one individual, family, or community can make a difference. Do not be discouraged! There are actions that you can take this month in your home, apartment and office that can make an impact.
“How?” you ask…
Through improvements in energy efficiency!
Before we dig into some action ideas, take a look at some of the points from the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 report Buildings and their Impact on the Environment: A Statistical Summary:
- + Buildings in the United States contribute 38.9 percent of the nation’s total carbon dioxide emissions, including 20.8 percent from the residential sector and 18.0 percent from the commercial sector (2008).
- + Buildings accounted for 72 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2006…
- + The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings. In the evening, the difference can be as high as 22°F (12°C)… One study estimates that the heat island effect is responsible for 5–10% of peak electricity demand for cooling buildings in cities.
(Italics are ours, not the EPA’s)
As illustrated above, buildings (both residential and commercial) contribute greatly to energy use and carbon dioxide emissions which contribute, in turn, to climate change. Therefore, increasing the efficiency of our buildings should help slow the changes we’re seeing. Anyone who lives and or works in a building (i.e.: most Americans) has a place where they can (through direct action or influence) make a difference. Actions taken to conserve energy in our built environment have the dual benefits of fighting climate change and saving you (or your landlord, or your company) money on the electric bill.
Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas both big and small:
|Caulk The Cracks: Sometimes even the smallest gaps can make a big difference. Running a bead of caulk around window and door frames helps stop drafts and save energy.||Cover the Fan: If small cracks make a difference, imagine what a 10″ hole can do! Stop unwanted energy loss through your exhaust fans. These magnetic covers are easy to put on and take off as needed.
||Seal the Pulleys: Permanently stop cold drafts infiltrating your house through the pulley assemblies inside your casement window frames with easy to install Pulley Seals.|
|Paint the Roof White: The heat island effect of cities can be greatly reduced by painting roofs white – this reflects the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them so buildings stay cooler.||Get Double Pane Performance:
Indow Windows interior inserts give you energy saving performance equivalent to replacement windows without the cost, hassle and waste of replacement and allow you to keep the charm of your originals.
|Blow in Some Insulation: With cellulose insulation, you can add significant R-value to your walls without taking the house apart!|
Still more ideas…
1. Pipe insulation, shown above, keeps pipes from freezing, sweating, and losing heat.
2. Switch and outlet gaskets prevent drafts through places we might not consider particularly drafty, but are a source of energy loss.
3. Xtra-Foam seal drafty windows, doors, and leaks with this low expanding, multipurpose foam.
4. Air conditioner weatherseals seal the gaps around air conditioners and in windows
5. Indoor window insulating kits seal windows airtight.
6. Water heater insulation jackets make home water heaters more efficient. Handheld adhesive foam prevents leaks around doors and windows.
7. Bonded Logic Ultratouch Mini Rolls help to seal known gaps in insulation, reducing noise and energy loss.
8: Air conditioner covers prevent winter air from entering through a window unit air conditioner.
Whether you love throwing large backyard barbecue parties, or prefer lounging quietly in the sun with a good book, a beautiful deck is the foundation for enjoying your outdoor spaces at home. Winter is almost over and soon it will be prime deck-sitting time. In part-one of this two-part series we’ll give you some ideas for finishing your deck (whether it be a traditional wood, or an exotic species). In part two, we’ll talk about the different benefits of our decking options!
Osmo Deck Oil is easy to apply (almost impossible to screw up, actually) and it will not flake, peel, blister or crack over time. This finish penetrates into the wood grain, strengthening it from within and allowing the wood to “breathe” as temperature and humidity fluctuate. It smooths the surface of the wood and protects it against damage from weather, water, beverage spills (wine, beer, soda pop, etc), and the colored versions even protect against damage from UV rays (the Clear “Teak” does not offer UV protection.) One of the other exceptional benefits of Osmo Deck Oil is that it is very easy to maintain. Should you decide that your deck could use another coat of finish, you don’t have to sand or apply a chemical stripper! Just clean the deck well, and then apply another coat of deck oil right on top of the old.
+ Will not crack, flake, peel or blister
+ Penetrates the wood grain and strengthens from within
+ Easy, “no-mistakes” application
+ Effective on exotic and domestic species
+ Great colors!
Refresh Your Existing Deck: Osmo Wood Reviver Power Gel
If you have a deck that is looking old and weathered but still has lots of structural life left in it, Osmo Wood Reviver Power Gel will bring back its good looks! With just one application, this innovative new product rejuvenates, revitalizes, refreshes, and returns resilience to exterior wood that has been dulled, grayed, and weathered. Osmo Wood Reviver Power Gel restores the natural character of exterior woodwork to near its original color, gently without damaging the wood grain. After treating your deck with the power gel, finish it with one of Osmo’s Deck Oils for long-lasting beauty.
+ Refreshes and cleans weathered wood decking and exterior furniture
+ Revives resilience and color without damaging wood
+ Ready to use, no need to mix or measure
+ Brush it on, wash it off
More Deck Products:
|Vermont Natural Coatings: Using the strength of natural whey proteins and water-based resins, this finish is waterproof and provides protection against mildew, mold and harmful UV rays.||Acri-Soy Penetrating Clear Sealer: This finish, based on natural plant oils protects deck surfaces by creating a molecular bond and seal. For a stained surface, apply a coat of TimberSoy Natural Wood Stain first – then finish with a top coat of Acri-Soy.||Ready-Strip Deck Brite:
This non-acid brightener and cleaner is safe for decks and other exterior surfaces. Back to Nature Ready-Strip Deck-Brite contains no acid, is biodegradable and non-flammable
Are you thinking of remodeling your bathroom this year? Good news! It is now easier than ever to work sustainable and low-toxic elements into a bathroom renovation. From the flooring to the accessories, here are some examples of product choices to help you make your bathroom more healthy and more environmentally friendly. You will see that you don’t have to compromise style!
For a sustainable bathroom remodel, water savings is “low-hanging fruit”. With just three simple fixture choices (toilet, shower head and faucet), your bathroom can become a paragon of water conservation. Caroma dual-flush toilets combine cutting-edge efficiency with stellar performance. These water saving fixtures have an average flush of just 1.2 gallons, and their 4″ trap practically eliminates clogs! For water savings in your shower, Oxgenics Shower Heads are designed to use up to 70% less water than standard fixtures while delivering an invigorating and spa-like shower experience. Finally, when considering the bathroom sink, one of the easiest ways to save water is to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth! You can also install an inexpensive faucet aerator to cut your use even further.
|Caroma Somerton: This Dual-Flush fixture has an average flush of just 1.2 gallons. Water Sense Certified.||Oxygenics Shower Heads: A full-power shower head for spa-like experience – using 70% less water than normal showerheads!||Faucet Aerator: Save water, increase velocity and reduce splash! Great for kitchen and bathroom sinks.|
Vanity and Surround
A gorgeous sustainable vanity is easy to achieve. Start with a base of cabinetry with no-added-formaldehyde and sustainably harvested materials like Executive or Bellmont Cabinets (pictured above). You can get the gorgeous lines and visual textures of marble or granite with an american-made countertop like Cambria, Vetrazzo or IceStone. These surfaces are durable enough to withstand the frequent cleaning and exposure to toothpaste, cleansers, and personal care products typical in the average bathroom while continuing to look great! Tile backsplashes, accents and tub-surrounds can provide splashes of color and offer an easy-to-clean surface. Choose a company that uses recycled content like Fireclay Tile or Oceanside that use post-consumer waste like recycled glass bottles and old toilets for their raw materials.
|Bellmont Cabinets: Beautifully crafted cabinets with recycled wood fiber and no added formaldehyde.||Fireclay Tile: A myriad of gorgeous styles and colors – made from recycled ceramic and glass in California.||Cambria Vanity Top: Twice as strong as granite, Cambria will resist most stains and is easy to clean.|
When choosing flooring for a bathroom one simple phrase rules: EASY TO MOP UP! Many people love the look and feel of tile on the floor of their bathroom which has the benefits of being very durable and generally easy to clean. Another classic choice for bathroom flooring is Marmoleum, a kind of classic linoleum. Completely PVC free, Marmoleum is made of Linseed oil, wood flour, wood resin, natural pigments and a jute backing. Unlike your grandmother’s linoleum, Marmoleum comes with three layers of factory finish and does not have to be waxed on a regular basis. It is also super for bathrooms because it comes in sheets (uninterrupted surface makes it easy to clean), it is naturally anti-microbial, and it comes in a vast array of colors so it can fit into any design. If you like the idea of using sheet flooring in your bathroom but want something new and a little different, Capri Sequel may be the option for you. This engineered combination of cork and rubber offers a subtle slip resistance and longevity.
|Marmoleum: PVC-free and available in every color imaginable, Marmoleum comes in sheets and can even be inlaid||Capri Sequel: Sequel is comfortable under foot, durable, slip resistant, and contains post-industrial recycled content||Green Depot Tub & Tile: Formulated with a low pH organic salt, this concentrated, non-corrosive tub & tile cleaner emits no irritating fumes.|
A great challenge for bathrooms, especially full bathrooms, is the potential for mildew growth. Fortunately there are some wall finishes that actually work to frustrate the growth of that unsightly and unhealthy stuff. American Clay, great for well ventilated bathrooms, is a dynamic and versatile earth plaster that is naturally resistant to mold growth. If standard paint is more to your liking, use Moldex or Yolo Colorhouse Paints which both contain mold-inhibiting ingredients.
Cleaning and Accessories
Once you’ve got the big renovation done, here are some products to keep the healthy, green theme going:
|Grunge Buster Grout Brush: Made of recycled plastic and bamboo, this brush is perfect for cleaning tile AND hard-to-clean grout simultaneously.||EVA Shower Curtain: These stylish non-PVC shower curtains do the job without off-gassing Poly-vinyl choride toxins!||Green Depot Tub & Tile: Formulated with a low pH organic salt, this concentrated, non-corrosive tub & tile cleaner emits no irritating fumes.|
Click here to see more of our green bathroom accessories.
Renovating a basement can be a great way to add living space to your home without the expense of building up or out! Here at Green Depot we have several products that lend themselves so well to this kind of project, you could almost say they were made for it! Because they are usually at least partially underground (below-grade) basements are often cold and even a little damp feeling, but they don’t have to stay that way.
Insulating your basement:
|Tyroc Underlayment: Created for basement applicatons, this subfloor
paneling evens out small variances, acts as a vapor barrier and allows the cement under your flooring
to breathe. This subfloor is impervious to mold, mildew and moisture. Install your flooring of choice over it.
|Nest Radiant Barrier Insulation: This reflective insulation blanket adds an R value of 12.5 with just 1/4 inch of material. A water proof vapor barrier, moisture will not affect the insulating qualities. Reflects warmth back into your basement.||Ultratouch Cotton Insulation: Made from cotton, this insulation is pest, mold and fire resitant. Available in a range of R values Ultratouch adds a cozy cotton blanket to your basement without any fiberglass, or formaldehyde.|
Finish your basement with products that bring warmth and coziness – and protect your Indoor Air Quality:
|Cork Flooring: Made from a rapidly renewable resource, cork floors are warm, resilient and comfortable underfoot. This natural flooring is durable, quiet, and comes in a wide range of styles and applications.||Wool Carpet: Few materials invite you to take your shoes off and feel cozy like wall to wall carpeting can. Wool carpets bring warmth, style and comfort without the need for chemical stain masters and flame retardants that can offgas, plus wool is a fast growing, renewable fiber!||YOLO Colorhouse Paints: Basements tend to be short on natural light, so the warmth and vibrance provided by their designer colors makes YOLO a great choice for a refinished basement. In addition to a harmonious palette, all YOLO paints are intrinsically mold and mildew resistant whatever color or sheen you choose.|
Complete the job with a couple of essential appliances to maintain the comfort of your new living space:
|BioSmart Heaters: Infrared heat is perfect in a basement because it creates a much cozier feeling than more common heaters. The unique shorter wavelength is a penetrating, direct source of heat, much like the sun. BioSmart heaters heat the space evenly from floor to ceiling – warming up the objects rather than simply the air.||Austin Air FIlters: Keep your new basement living space feeling clean and comfortable with a high quality air filter that will help control dust, mold spores, chemicals, pet dander, odors and more!|
If you are thinking of finishing your basement – whether for extra guest space or craft space, an office or a game room, the healthy and environmentally friendly materials above will contribute to making your space comfortable and inviting. Work with a contractor to be sure that your basement is suitable for renovation (no leaks), and that you have the proper building permits as required in your area. A contractor will also know the proper tools for framing in a concrete setting – which can be a little tricky.
Click here for a helpful post about basement renovations on Diynetwork.com!
East Coast or West Coast many of us across the country will have had to deal with the trauma of water damage in our homes before this year is over. Unfortunately, many of the problems caused by flooding or leaks do not disappear with the water – and one of the most pernicious of these is mold. Mold can create unpleasant odors, cause nasty stains, and in the worst cases mold can release toxins into the air and cause major health problems. If you are wondering how to prevent or eliminate mold in your home in a healthy and environmentally sound way, here are some of our recommendations.
+ Be sure to protect yourself while dealing with mold and always wear gloves and a mask. We recommend using natural latex gloves.
+ Make sure that all water has been removed and the space is completely dried out. Running a space heater and/or a dehumidifier in the affected area will speed drying.
+ Softer materials like carpeting or ceiling tiles that got wet will likely have to be disposed of because they are typically too difficult to clean thoroughly enough. Be sure to remember that the subfloor underneath your carpeting or other flooring may need to be addressed as well.
+ Remaining surfaces can be scrubbed with Moldex to kill and prevent mold. Surfaces can also be treated with Oxyboost to kill mold or mildew. Mix 2 to 3 ounces of Oxyboost into a gallon of hot water and scrub the area down, then rinse and repeat if necesary. Both Moldex and Oxyboost are free of dyes, bleach, and ammonia.
+ Once mold has been removed, dry the surfaces completely before repainting, or covering with flooring, insulation or drywall.
- If you are replacing the carpet or flooring in a basement, consider Tyroc Underlayment - it allows air-flow underneath flooring and is itself impervious to mold
– If you have to replace drywall, we recommend Mold Tough Drywall – it will help prevent mold from taking hold in the walls
+ After drying, walls should be primed with AFM Transitional Primer (AFM 80190) and painted with Moldex Paint or YOLO Colorhouse paints. (YOLO paint is mold and mildew resistant because it contains an antimicrobial ingredient – the same stuff used in dandruff shampoos)
+ Once a home has dried out, been cleaned thoroughly and refinished or repainted, we recommend using an Austin Air Purifer in the space on an ongoing basis. Austin Air units contain filters that are fine enough to trap lingering mold spores and other contaminants. Austin Air Purifiers are trusted by FEMA and the Red Cross.
Recommended reading from the EPA:
Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems
Mold Cleanup Guidelines
If mold covers more than 10 square feet, the EPA recommends that these guidelines are followed:
Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings
To see more Green Depot products related to storm cleanup please click here.