Ecobuilding: A Growing NW Trend: "Ecobuilding: A Growing NW Trend by Cameron Woodworth When it comes to protecting the environment, just about the most important influence we can have is in our homes and offices. Some of the most severe environmental impacts, in fact, stem from our buildings.
Changing the way we build and operate our homes and workplaces can have profound benefits for the planet and our well-being. David Malin Roodman and Nicholas Lenssen, writing for The Worldwatch Institute, argue that the modern buildings we live, work and shop in rival cars and manufacturing as sources of harm to the environment.
Modern construction techniques contribute greatly to deforestation, global warming, overuse of water, acid rain and other environmental problems. In 1990, Kirk Smith, founder of the Greenhouse Crisis Foundation in Washington, D.C., wrote that United States homes and apartments account for the largest share of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by all industrial, commercial and residential sources worldwide.
Buildings that are unhealthy for the environment, not surprisingly, often cause illness in people, too. Thirty percent of newly built or renovated buildings suffer from 'sick building syndrome', exposing occupants to stale or mold- and chemical-laden air, Roodman and Lenssen say. Many homes built in this century contain radon or asbestos. The EPA estimates that lead-based paint was applied to approximately two-thirds of the houses built in the U.S. before 1940 and one-third of the homes built between 1940 and 1960.
Largely because of these environmental and health reasons, ecobuilding has become a hot trend in the 1990s.
Professional Builder magazine reports that 60 percent of buyers want "healthy house" features in their new purchase, and 25 percent say it is important to buy a home constructed with "green methods".
A green home can reduce environmental impact by as much as 60 percent compared to standard houses, according to Howard Associates, a building environmental science and technology firm in Maryland. Green buildings are more energy efficient, and use recycled, renewable and reused resources as much as possible.
Ecobuilding is a broad field, encompassing numerous innovative ideas. Almost any aspect of housing, remodeling and construction can fall into the category of ecobuilding. Even the household cleaners and paints we use make a substantial difference to the environment and our well-being.
The Environmental Home Center, a store just south of the Kingdome in Seattle, sells a wide array of eco-friendly supplies.
The products—which include paints, adhesives, wood and timber, flooring materials, cabinetry, tile, insulation and roofing, sheet goods and decking materials, furniture, bedding and appliances, and even carpeting—share one or more of the following qualities: they are low-toxic, biodegradable, non-polluting, recycled and recyclable, energy- and resource-efficient, sustainably grown or manufactured, renewable, promote social and economic sustainability, or a combination of these factors."