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!   


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.


Yolo's Scout Palette with Rais Stove

So, you’ve caulked around all your windows, you’ve checked the insulation in your attic, you’ve covered your air conditioner unit and all drafts in your home are now officially blocked. Q: What more can you do around the house to make your family feel warm and cozy this winter?  A: LOTS!

In Denmark, a part of the world known for its long, gloomy winters, they use the word Hygge (pronounced HOOG-uh)to describe that perfect, warm, cheerful, comfortable, bright feeling that  is desired indoors during the cold, dark and dreary winter months. Candles, warm colors, a wood fire, textiles and good friends can all contribute to the experience of hygge.

Here at Green Depot we have many offerings that evoke hygge without without hurting your indoor air quality (an especially important feature when stuck inside with the windows shut…) Even better, you can improve the coziness of your home without any major remodeling!

Conceived by a pair of interior designers, the YOLO Colorhouse palette is created to be timeless and easy to live with. Each color is designed to be a rich backdrop for comfortable living, adding a sense of depth to interior spaces. Their colors are designed to work together to create harmonious spaces as seen above in their Scout Palette with tones inspired by nature. YOLO performs like a premium conventional paint, yet it has low odor, no harmful chemicals, and no added solvents and no VOCs while still boasting excellent hide and durability. 

Carefully handcrafted in Denmark by skilled craftsmen, nothing brings the authentic experience of hygge to your home like a RAIS stove! Some of the most efficient and least polluting wood stoves on the market, they are engineered to burn so efficiently that they even burn up most of the particulate matter in the smoke before it gets released into the air! This works so well that burning wood in a RAIS stove releases no more CO2 than would be released if that wood were naturally decomposing on the forest floor. In addition to being great for Air Quality, their efficiency means that you can enjoy a hotter burning, longer lasting fire while using much less wood than most wood stoves!

The bright glow of a candle combined with a delicious aroma can bring comfort with just the strike of a match. The maker of Tatine Tisane candles considers scent as a story, meant to delight and move you with a sense of personal connection. “Celebration Day,” as seen at left, features scents of orange and pine – perfect for the holidays! Completely paraffin-free these candles are made from beeswax, soy wax, and a mixture of essential oils and fine perfumes.


BioSmart® Infrared Heaters represent the state of the art in space heaters. The far infrared waves they produce move quickly on the water molecules in the air and heat your home evenly from floor to ceiling. Infrared heat creates a much cozier feeling than more common heaters because the unique shorter wavelength is a more penetrating, direct source of heat, much like the sun. This is considered the region of infrared that is most harmonious with the human body and the most effective at producing heat. BioSmart far infrared heaters produce energy waves in this therapeutic far infrared range. They are so therapeutic and healthy that Far Infrared is the heat source of choice for infant incubators in hospitals.

A natural fiber area rug can instantaneously warm up a room with color and texture. In addition to tieing a room together visually and offering a splash of pattern, an area rug can also offer friends and family a warm and comfortable place to gather in front of a wood stove or fireplace. Green Depot area rugs are free of toxic flame retardants and stain blocking chemicals so you can feel even more comfortable stretching out on one with a good book.

These are just a few ideas to make your home feel welcoming and comfortable this season! If you are looking for more design ideas, please check out our profile on!  We hope your coming cold-weather months are very warm and hygge-filled!!


Showing that green building has effectively moved into the mainstream, USA Today published an article this week titled “‘Green’ growth fuels an entire industry”. In it, they take a close look at the nationwide adoption of the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) green building certification program, LEED. The article reports that, today, over 200 government agencies now require that buildings meet LEED standards, and that the green construction market could reach $122 billion in the next 3 years. It goes on to say:

LEED has won wide acceptance among people who plan, design and construct buildings as a way to win environmental approval and boost profit. There are 13,500 LEED-certified commercial buildings in the U.S., and another 30,000 have applied for LEED approval.

Offering encouraging news about the nation’s growing awareness of the importance of green building and energy efficiency, the article also takes a look at the evolution of LEED standards and the role that the building industry plays in the process. It is encouraging to see these topics being discussed on such a mainstream platform as USA Today. It shows just how far we have come in the last 10 years, and we see it as a clear indication that the green building movement, while continually evolving, is here to stay.

To see the USGBC’s response to the USA Today article, click here.


Wood is one of the “greenest” building  materials available to us today! It is a renewable resource that is strong, long-lasting and has a myriad of applications. Even better, while trees are growing they absorb carbon from the atmosphere and store it. At the end of the “first life” of a wood product,  it can often be recycled two, three or more times and, sometimes, even composted. Where wood becomes unsustainable is when it is harvested through destructive logging practices that contribute to habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous peoples, and violence against forest workers and wildlife.

Q: How can we as consumers tell if we are supporting responsible forestry practices or not?
A: Through the FSC!

The international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to combat destructive practices by encouraging responsible forest management. FSC has offices in 145 countries, and 384 million acres of certified forest around the globe. The FSC Logo can be found on all kinds of different products from paper to decking – if you see the logo it means that the wood in that product is from an FSC certified supplier.

When a forest is FSC certified you can be sure that it is a forest that is managed for ecological health, sustainable harvest levels, and social responsibility. Ecological health includes protecting the wildlife, water, air and soil. Sustainable harvest levels are ensured by never cutting more than what will grow back.  Social responsibility is attended to  through rules surrounding indigenous rights, labor rights, and multiple benefits. Indeed, FSC has developed a set of 10 Principles and 57 Criteria that all FSC certified companies must follow. As a third party certifier, the organization carries out regular audits of certified companies’ practices to ensure that they maintain FSC standards.

Here’s a cool infographic that illustrates the important role that FSC plays in the global supply of wood for building materials (and other purposes):

Friday, September 28th, we celebrated International FSC Friday. Learn more about the FSC at



New Accessory Dwelling Unit in Portland

The City of Portland’s Build It Green! Home Tour and Info Fair (BIG!) turns eleven this year. BIG! is a self-guided tour of 16 green remodels and new homes around Portland. The Home Preview web page is a great place to begin planning your tour day, as it’s easy to start and stop where you choose. With so many homes to see, tour-goers usually check out the free Info Fair at Green Depot first, then prioritize the homes based on their features.

As they move through their route, tour-goers can chat with homeowners, designers, do-it-yourselfers and contractors about space-efficient dwellings, solar panels, green roofs, rainwater harvesting, natural landscaping, affordable housing, water and energy conservation, natural building materials and alternative construction techniques.

Tour date: Saturday, September 22, 2012, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m

Eight accessory dwelling units (ADUs) will open their doors on tour day. All of these “backyard cottages” are new construction projects, with the exception of a converted garage.

For the Master-Draper ADU, an existing garage was converted into an energy-efficient art studio and compact dwelling, maintaining the existing footprint. An open outdoor room with sliding doors extends living space to the pocket garden. In 480 sq. ft. of living space, features include a salvaged farm sink, wine barrel stave railings, day lit loft and a mosaic bathroom designed and tiled by the owner.

Walt Quade’s home, 80 sq. ft. pre-fab studio, teardrop trailer and 325 sq. ft. ADU for his sister-in-law is also featured on the tour.

Among other homes you’ll visit are an eclectic accessible remodel featuring Universal Design elements; Planet Repair Institute featuring shared community, natural building techniques and permaculture; the Whitridge Full Plane House expressing the homeowner’s deeply held values of a low-impact home suitable for raising children; and Cully Grove, a new pocket neighborhood of 16 dwellings, common gardens and guest house.

New this year are drop-in workshops at several homes included with the ticket price. Topics included are small home communities, rainwater harvesting, Living Building Challenge, Energy Performance Score, permaculture and more.

The Wicky Pickers

The Info Fair at Green Depot Portland is a prelude to the Tour with green exhibitors, demonstrations, food, drink and live music by the Wicky Pickers! The fun begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. Come get your tickets, enjoy coffee from Da Pressed Coffee and join the fun before heading on the tour! Green Depot is located at 819 SE Taylor, Portland. The Info Fair is FREE and open to all. Enter to win a dual flush toilet and other prizes! Here is a list of the nearly 40 exhibitors already signed up:
City of Portland: Your Sustainable City, Bureau of Environmental Services, ReDirect Guide, The Green Living Journal, Oregon Home Magazine, Energy Trust of Oregon, NW EcoBuilding Guild, Mobius Home, Rebuilding Center, Arciform, Modern Mud, Yolo Paint, Portland Metro Restores/Habitat, The Heat Pump Store, Shelterworks, Kitchen Compost Caddy, Sustainable Northwest Woods, Car 2 Go, Structures NW, Birdseye Hardwood, Decoupage Floors, Marmoleum, EcoCrush, Sunlight Solar, Modspdx, GreenHammer, Indow Window, Jacobs Heating and Cooling, Buckman Neighborhood Architectural Heritage Center, GreenSaversUSA, The Golden Rule, Galaxy, and JRA.

Tickets are required for the tour homes. These are available online or in person at Green Depot.

– $15 general admission
– $10 honored citizens/students/alternative transportation.
– Children 13 years-old and under are FREE.

Want a free Tour ticket? Volunteer for the Tour or Info Fair!

Want more info or have a project you’d like to be considered for 2013? Send an e-mail to Valerie Garrett, tour coordinator, greenhotline[at]

BIG! is sponsored by Metro, Energy Trust of Oregon, Oregon Home, Solar Oregon, Green Depot, KINK-FM, City of Portland Bureaus of Development Services, Environmental Services, and Water.

This post was authored by Valerie Garrett.