Are you building a home or an addition? Are you also the sort of person who cares about your family’s health? Then make your building green!
We’ll tell you.
Many building products can harmful to the environment as well as people. Our country continues to make progress in ending production of these building materials in favor of ones that are more environmentally sound, but the process is long and slow. It takes a little extra effort, but this new home design trend is worth it, especially if you have children, because you know you’re doing your part to make their surroundings safer and the world a better place for them.
We’re going to suggest some alternatives for you, much the way diet advice is given (instead of ice cream, have yogurt!). The difference is, making safe building material choices is a lot less painful than foregoing candy and beer in favor of carrot sticks and cranberry juice!
Instead of PVC piping, use copper. We know — we just ditched copper in favor of PVC! But remember when thalidomide was billed as a miracle drug?
PVC is cheap, light, durable and highly toxic. In recent years, people have been avoiding buying shower curtains made of PVC because of the carcinogens they release. (Sniff, sniff. What’s that smell? Cancer.)
If you use PVC piping in your basement or underground to carry away sewage and wastewater, you’re likely not suffering too much harm. But PVC supply pipes are another matter. Do you want to drink, cook or bathe in water that comes out of these pipes? Copper piping has been used safely for more than 70 years.
Instead of pressure-treated wood, use ordinary lumber or wood alternative. Wood and water don’t mix. You must protect the former from the latter, or it will deteriorate and become useless.
It’s not that it’s difficult to protect wood, it just takes effort. You need to coat it with a protectant every one to five years, depending on your climate and the type of wood you choose.
It’s easier and cheaper to choose pressure-treated or composite building materials for your deck or other outdoor structure. And since the wood is outside, it’s safer than it would be in your living room. But if you or your children spend a lot of time on your deck, you may want to reconsider this building material
Instead of particle board (MDF), use real wood or even plastic. Most particle board, also known as medium-density fiberboard, is made with formaldehyde. This can trigger some people’s asthma, and there’s a concern that it’s also a carcinogen.
This building material, which is essentially a mixture of chunky sawdust and glue, is lightweight and cheap. It’s usually covered with some type of veneer, which gives it it’s Ikea-like appearance.
To be safe, go with real wood. Or, if your furniture or cabinetry is going to be used by children or exposed to water or other messes, consider cheap, lightweight, wipable plastic.
Falk Construction has been building and remodeling homes in and around Ogden, Utah, for more than 30 years. We’ve seen what happens when supposed “miracle” building materials like asbestos and lead turn out to be not so miraculous.
Trust our experience and dependability with your next building project.