Guest post by Krista Peterson
Sure, everyone seems to be getting out and going “green” these days. From driving hybrid cars to living vegan lifestyles, many people are taking different steps towards better living throughout the world recently. In the area of green building, using these types of building materials can be not only beneficial in cost effectiveness and sustainability, but also in some more important areas. Minor substitutions and green materials used in the building process can be particularly beneficial in improving overall health and cutting down on the risk of disease for the future.
Paint is often one of the primary materials throughout a building or remodeling process. What many people are unaware of is that most common paints are high in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) which present health risks and threats to air quality when constantly inhaled. Given the repeated exposure that would be likely during a remodeling or building process, the associated health risks with VOC’s are a possibility for builders and remodelers. The range of health problems can span from extremely minor to some more permanent and long term issues. Repeated exposure to VOC’s have been shown to sometimes lead to health risks such as fatigue, headaches and dizziness, as well as more dangerous risks like kidney or liver damage.
Alternatives for paint products are relatively easy to come by. Most common hardware stores carry great options for normal paint products that are usually high in volatile organic compounds. The best alternative is to look for organic and low-VOC paints. This will certainly reduce risk of exposure and health risk.
Insulation can also be a great way to replace potentially toxic products with green building materials, while reducing health risks in the process. Many older homes, up until the 1970’s and 1980’s were built using asbestos as a common material in insulation purposes for houses and buildings. Unfortunately, although being extremely versatile and trustworthy as a building material. Asbestos began to be known as one of the primary developers in health problems such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, respiratory problems and other minor issues such as fatigue and dizziness. While both of these may seem inconsequential as far as health problems, the other risks are not to be taken lightly. For example, mesothelioma life expectancy is usually only between eight and 14 months after diagnosis. Having older homes checked for asbestos in the insulation and looking for new alternatives can be a major step towards better overall health. Even in the case that asbestos may not be a problem for your individual house, insulation is a great option for green building because of its ability to increase a home’s sustainability and reduce the carbon footprint, while still being cost effective.
Green options in insulation present some of the best forms of sustainability in houses today. As previously mentioned, making the switch to these green options can certainly decrease possible health risks, but they can also be high in sustainability and extremely cost effective at the same time. Some of the options in green insulation include the use of cellulose and lycnene. Cellulose is usually the most popular form of green insulation. It’s made from 80 percent of recycled paper and parts of newspaper, and comes complete without the dangers of formaldehyde. It’s also one of the cheapest options of green insulation as well. Lycnene is a form of spray foam insulation that is often the most sustainable form. Because it’s sprayed into seeps and cracks, its ability to keep air trapped in the house is excellent.
Certainly there are other easy steps that can be taken to help out in green insulation, but these two are some great ones to look at, primarily because of their ability to replace products that may have health risks, while still adding to the overall sustainability of the home.