We’ve been doing a lot of green building long before it had a name. For us, the thing that make a project green is that is durable. It’s all in the details.
Unlike many other contractors, we take the time to recycle a lot of the material from a building onsite. For one thing, the old wood is often much better than what we’ll be able to get from the lumberyard. If your house is a hundred years old, the wood in it’s frame would be considered furniture grade lumber today. It takes a bit more time and space on the site and honestly, it doesn’t’ really save that much money – but we think its’ the right thing to do. Intelligent minimization of waste is important in this industry, which generates a substantial portion of urban waste. We always sort our trash and recycle as much as possible. That part actually saves you money as well.
We also don’t really believe in a lot of what we consider “greenwashing”. OSB (chipboard) is labeled as green, most likely because it has a higher yield from logs, but it is not as durable as standard plywood. If it gets wet, a lot of it’s strength disappears. It gets rotten a lot easier as well. There are many other examples – but we stay abreast of modern developments and evaluate them ourselves.
But we do strongly encourage use of recycled materials, and can recommend a lot of places to get really great deals on recycled stuff. Likewise, we try to stick with renewable resources, like FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) approved lumber.
Another very important component of green building is interior environment. We will warn you away from cheap cabinets that we know will outgas formaldehyde for years. We evaluate plumbing fittings the way you might look at labels on food in the supermarket. We use as many low VOC and non-toxic chemicals as possible – as long as it makes sense.
For many people, green building means building efficient buildings. This is one area where details really matter a lot. We make sure to insulate a lot of details that many others don’t, like behind electrical devices and building corners. Also, many products have improved a lot in recent years, like LED lighting and high efficiency plumbing fixtures and we’re happy to recommend them.