Green living does not just happen in the garden, it incorporates all areas of life, including inside the home. Green or renewable materials are gaining popularity and are showing up in the chairs we sit on, the counters we eat off of and the floors we walk on. One of the best examples of green living in Sussex County is the Center for the Inland Bays building at Indian River Inlet. When the Center's staff started renovating the old Coast Guard building, they decided to make it as green as possible and installed solar panels on the roof, native plants in the landscaping and even the inside of the building was designed to protect the environment. They used recycled glass on the countertops and alternative materials such as bamboo flooring. Bamboo is a fast-growing renewable material. The photovoltaic solar cells on the roof produce energy and limit the Center's reliance on fossil fuels.
There are those who buy a new house and obsess over every piece of furniture they put in the new space. Furniture can show the personality of the owner and can bring a sense of home into a room. Environmentally-friendly furniture is becoming easier to find as designers are coming out with innovative designs that minimize the impact on the planet. "The modern sustainability movement has attracted such a large number of innovative designers that it's hard to know where to start," reads the introduction to the furniture section of Treehugger, a group of green advocates who started a website to spread the word. "There are always cost effective ways to go green." Treehugger was founded by Graham Hill, a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur. He focuses on pushing sustainability into the mainstream. Refurbishing old furniture is a great way to be creative and green at the same time. Other objects can be turned into furniture as well. When looking for new furniture, look for wood that is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. If it bears this mark, it means that the forest it came from is managed in a sustainable way. Types of renewable materials include bamboo, cork, recycled glass and wood from sustainable forests. "In theory, a well-managed forest can continue to produce wood indefinitely," said Michael Richard of Treehugger. "This is the opposite of clear-cutting, where whole forests are leveled at once and the ecosystem is demolished." Even sustainable forestry has an impact on forests and could still be damaging to ecosystems and habitats. The wood could also be treated with pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, just like non-organic food crops. It is better to know where your wood comes from if you are trying to create a green home. Green furniture companies include Greenguard, Steelcase, The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) and Scientific Certification Systems' Indoor Advantage.
According to the Greenguard Environmental Institute, the average person spends 90 percent of his or her time indoors. During that time, the person has to breathe and when breathing, the particulates in the house are absorbed into the body. Concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulates can be more than 100 times higher in indoor spaces than outside. Greenguard staffers work to improve and clean the indoor air by using green furniture and by identifying products that meet chemical emissions criteria. "The growth and acceptance of green building guidelines has propelled indoor air quality as a mainstream issue," said Carl Smith, CEO of Greenguard. "From the air filters used, to the furnishings they buy, homeowners are now driving the green marketplace. Not surprisingly, Greenguard certification has grown to include low-emitting consumer products for interior spaces." On the Greenguard website, both business and residential consumers can find certified paints, flooring and insulation, as well as furniture, bedding and cleaning supplies are reduce the indoor toxins. It provides the largest online resource for low-emitting materials. "In many ways, homeowners are much more demanding than commercial owners," said Smith. "They insist on understanding the health impact of their buying decisions and knowing that the products they purchase show little or no likelihood of emitting chemicals that might affect them and their families. So they ask much tougher questions when seeking product solutions."For more information, visit www.greenguard.org or www.treehugger.com. Contact Rachel Swick at email@example.com.
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