Winter Projects Around the House

January 12th, 2012 | Posted by Lesia in Green Homes - (1 Comments)

Though many think that Summer is the time for home renovation projects, there are actually many eco-friendly home projects, big and small, that you can take care of at this time of year to improve your energy efficiency and update the look of your home. Here are some ideas:

Insulation and Caulking
Sealing up the leaks around your home can translate into instant energy savings! We offer many easy-to-use products that will help you fill in the gaps around your place with speed.

XtraFoam HH: Use this handheld adhesive spray foam to seal drafty windows, doors, and leaks with this low expanding, multipurpose foam. Bonded Logic Ultratouch Multi-Purpose Roll: perfect choice for smaller household insulating jobs including sealing gaps around air conditioning wall and window units as well as spaces around doorways. AFM Multipurpose Caulk: a water resistant, flexible, easy to install,
non-sag sealant with excellent initial and permanent adhesion.

Window Treatments
Roller or Roman, our window shades are a great way to add a splash of color to your room and create a finished look! Even better, by utilizing a specially engineered cushion of air or reflective fabric, our shades will also help insulate your home and save you energy.

Available in a wide range of styles and colors, our window-treatments help you save energy too.

Kitchen Projects
Major Holiday cooking projects are mostly past now, and the kids are back at school for most of the day – this is a perfect time of year to replace your cabinets and countertops. Many of our stores offer custom kitchen design services with Cabinet Design Professionals. The kitchen cabinets at Green Depot are selected for their fine quality, high style availability and eco-friendly options  like sustainable woods, healthy finishes, or low-urea-formaldehyde content.

We also offer a wide range of countertops that contain recycled material, like PaperStone, and even some that are made in the regions local to the store. Click here for our store locator.

Style and performance mix with sustainability and health in our cabinet lines, like Urban Prairie – shown here. PaperStone: Beautiful, warm and heavy-duty – perfect for today’s home. Twice as strong as granite, ideal for residential and commercial uses. Cambria will resist most stains and is easy to clean.

Floor Re-Finishing
When people imagine getting their floors re-finished, they also often imagine spending weeks with their windows open, airing out the house. With Green Depot’s low-toxic floor finishes, you don’t have to worry about the weather outside getting in, or endangering your home’s air quality. Even better, many of our finishes (like Osmo Polyx-Oil and Vermont Natural Coatings) cure quickly so life can return to normal in days – not weeks.

Made from natural oils and waxes, Polyx-Oil brings out the natural beauty of your wood. Spot-repairable. Made from post-industrial whey protein, Vermont Natural Coatings offer a low-toxic alternative to regular polyurethane finishes.
Cellulose Insulation filling the space between the apartment's floor joists. Great for sound insulation.

Cellulose Insulation filling the space between the apartment's floor joists. Great for sound insulation.

Graham Hill’s “LifeEdited” apartment is not only going to be very space-efficient – it will be very energy efficient as well! This past week, construction got started as they put down the essential basic subfloor, and under that, insulation!

First, they removed the existing floor. Then, using Cel-Pak Cellulose Insulation supplied by Green Depot, they filled in all the air space between the joists in the floor. The picture to the right shows how they blew it in right to the top of the boards and then leveled it off before installing the plywood subfloor.

A great choice for the quality of a home’s air, cellulose insulation is made from 100% recycled newspaper. After the newspapers get shredded down, they get coated with borate (a naturally occurring salt) which is an effective pest and fire retardant. This product is free of fiberglass and PVC – two materials which can hurt the indoor air quality of a home. Many people don’t realize that insulation can affect the quality of a home’s air even from behind the drywall – but as air circulates through the space it also passes through walls and crawl spaces. This increases as a home (or in this case, an apartment) settles, and small openings happen between floors and walls (usually behind the baseboards.)

Plywood Subfloor installation complete over insulated floor.

Plywood Subfloor installation complete over insulated floor.

Here’s a quick list of the benefits of cellulose insulation:

Energy Saving
Cellulose insulation is applicable in a wide range of settings, whatever the desired R-value. Cellulose fills gaps around pipes, wires and outlets blocking those hard to insulate areas where drafts can occur.  It even blocks heat transfer at freezing temperatures.

Sound Insulating
The density of cellulose makes it an excellent sound barrier – far surpassing the sound insulating qualities of fiberglass. Putting it between apartments this way will sustantially decrease the sound-transfer both directions! (STC rating of 45 in a 2×4 wall)

Fire Retardant
Cel-pak is impregnated with borates which makes it very fire resistant. Burn tests have shown it resist fire far longer than other types of insulation. Because the insulation contains so few chemicals, if it does succomb to flame,  the smoke it generates doesn’t generally emit the same kinds of toxins that other insulations can as they burn.

Pest Resistant
The same borates used to add flame resistance also inhibit mold and mildew and repel insects and vermin.

Click here to visit our Cel-Pak page.
We carry a variety of other insulation products as well. Click here to see our full offering.



Click here for an introduction to this exciting project!

The new zHome development in Issaquah, WA.

Several years ago, about 20 miles east of Seattle, Washington, a goal was set to build a model for 21st century homes – and the zHome project was born. September saw the completion of this state-of-the art project, and it is revolutionary on almost every level. Zero-Net Energy The buildings have built-in energy efficiencies to help minimize waste – like heat recovering technology – and that accounts for most of the lowered energy use in these homes. The buildings have solar-panels that generate and offset the remaining energy use to achieve net zero energy use and net zero CO2 emissions over the course of a year. Water Conservation zHomes are slated to use just 40% of the average water use of a typical home.  All 10 units have successfully earned WaterSense New Home Certification. These are the first homes in the State, and among the first in the nation, to receive this recognition. The units save water in a number of ways: high-efficiency water fixtures and appliances, rain-garden landcaping, and rain-water capture for use in flushing toilets and laundry. The zHomes are also the first in the Nation to win Salmon Safe certification for their handling of stormwater runoff. Sustainable Materials Use Each unit is finished with low-toxic, eco-friendly and durable materials from floor to ceiling to inside the walls. The bulk of the materials in the project come from within 500 miles of the site. They also used recycled materials in finishes like tiles and countertops; FSC-certified woods for decking, handrails, siding and more; and super-durable materials for siding and roofing to minimize frequency of maintenance and replacement. On top of that, 90% of the construction waste from the building of these homes was recycled or reused. There are many more exceptional qualities to the zHome project that make it one of the most innovative developments in the country today. Visit http://z-home.org to learn more! This project is a model for 21st century homes – they’ve proved that these ideas are scalable – let’s hope they aren’t unique for long! Click here to visit our website.

This week, Green Depot Founder, Sarah Beatty hosted a special evening with “The Father of LEED,” Rob Watson, and Jigar Shah, CEO of The Carbon War Room. 75 people gathered for a discussion of the political, environmental, and technical realties of the race to prevent unmanageable climate disruption. Attendees included representatives from across the community including lending firms, retail stores, designers, artists, media and event companies, climate change organizations, public schools and universities, green building experts and more! This kind of cross-disciplinary discussion is vitally important if we hope to begin to tackle the issues of our time. All of the event’s attendees are dedicated, in their lives and organizations, to thinking bravely and differently about how to combat climate change. The challenges that we face are universal – engagement and cooperative action from all segments of our markets and communities is essential.

The leaders of this week’s discussion are both prominent, active leaders in the fight against climate change, Rob Watson and Jigar Shah.

Rob Watson is pioneer of the modern green building movement and  is best known as “the Father of LEED” for his leading role in the development of the LEED green building rating system, the most widespread and fastest-growing international green building standard. In 2007 he founded EcoTech International Group to meet the fast-growing demand for green building technologies and services worldwide. As the Director of International Energy and Green Buildings Programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Mr. Watson has worked in China on green building programs and market development since 1997, and is a recipient of a “Green Innovation” award by China’s Ministry of Construction, the only foreign expert so honored.

Jigar Shah is the CEO of the Carbon War Room, Jigar is dedicated to identifying business-as-usual practices and replacing them with low-carbon solutions. Prior to the Carbon War Room, Jigar founded SunEdison in 2003. Under his leadership, SunEdison revolutionized the solar industry by introducing a business model to sell solar as a service. The transformation to solar power service agreements is responsible for turning solar services into a multi-billion dollar industry. Jigar is also an expert on energy project finance, changing energy policy, working with entrenched stakeholders, and convincing individuals to embrace energy technology. He works closely with entrepreneurs, policymakers, and investors around the world to develop, incubate, and implement sustainable solutions.

The event was sponsored by Tipping Point Productions and Serious Energy.

We look forward to continuing the conversation at future such events, and in the community at large.

Click here to visit our Homepage.

A passive house in Austria. Image courtesy the Passive House Institute.

One of the main principles of passive house construction (read about this fantastic energy-saving way of building in this recent New York Times article) is making the building envelope as close to airtight as possible–to keep heat and cold from leaking in and out where they’re not supposed to. Several construction techniques unique to passive house design help achieve that goal, most notably the principle of keeping the inside and outermost layers of the house detached from the framework studs so they don’t have to be punctured for screws. But special construction techniques aren’t the only way to keep your house airtight: If you’re building from scratch, you can reconsider what appliances you’ll be installing, too.

Your clothes dryer (if you even use one) is especially important, because the exhaust vent leading to outdoors a traditional dryer requires typically allows far more air in and out of the house than just the hot air from the dryer. A more energy-conserving option is a condensing dryer. These dryers dispose of hot, damp air by turning the water in it into condensation and draining it away, then keeping the heat from the air to keep drying the clothes–as opposed to just sending the heat and moisture outside as waste, like a conventional dryer does. And since a condensing dryer doesn’t send anything outside, it doesn’t need a vent—so you don’t have to cut a leaky hole into your house for one!

And while you’re saving energy by installing a condensing dryer in your house, you can save it inside the machine, too. Wool Dryer Balls look like tennis balls, and dropping a few in the dryer with your clothes not only shortens drying time but reduces wrinkling, too. And there are countless green cleaning products for the wash. Among Green Depot’s favorites: Oxy-Boost is a fantastic alternative to chlorine bleach, and Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder works like a charm without phosphates or fragrances–and comes in a nifty old-timey package, too.