Green Materials 101: Your Guide to Green Building, Remodeling, and Home Improvement


Photo credit: Dieter Spannknebel / Getty Images

When it comes to building or renovating a home, there are few simple choices. From styles and colors to location and design, there's an awful lot to consider. Thankfully, you don't have to settle for materials that have big-time negative impact on the planet. Here to help is the Green Materials Guide, over on our sister site, Planet Green, which has eight robust sections to help guide you through the process of finding green materials for every green project in your home.

Building Blocks

The building blocks for your home -- those materials that make up the structure for your home -- are often hidden beneath siding and drywall, but it can be one of the most important decisions you make when building or remodeling a home. Your decision will tempered by history, culture and climate, and it is not a simple choice. From highly engineered materials like structurally engineered panels, to materials used just as Mother Nature made them, like rammed earth, read all about the choices you have in the Green Materials Guide for Building Blocks.

Efficient Heating and Cooling

Efficient heating and cooling in your home has become all about throwing tons of energy at the problem of staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer, but efficient systems and smart designs can help cut back on energy while cranking up your comfort level. From old standbys like natural gas, to new favorites like pellet stoves, to cool green tech like solar (for heat and air conditioning), check out the Green Materials Guide for Heating and Cooling to help you heat and cool with green in mind.

Insulation for Green Building

Everyone knows the rolls of pink insulation, made popular by a certain big cat, but there's a wide variety of green options out there, too. Proper insulation is one of the big keys to a green home, so, even though you don't see it every day, it's important to carefully consider the material that keeps heat in, and the cold out (and the other way around). Sure, the pink stuff is an option, but green materials as diverse as recycled denim and bio-based spray foam will do the job, too; read the Green Materials Guide for Building Insulation to learn about all the green materials to choose from.

Options for Green Windows

There are many different kinds of windows. Each operates in a different way, and each can serve a different function. All factors have an impact on how green your home is, and there are a lot of materials to consider to determine how green your windows are. From aluminum to vinyl to wood, casement to hopper to double hung (not to mention glazing and screening options), we've got all the window choices and materials covered. Read the to get started.

Green Flooring for your Home

Just because your flooring is underfoot doesn't mean you shouldn't pay attention to what materials are there, and which green material choices are best for any given flooring situation. Whether you need flooring for high traffic areas, a modular option that can be partially replaced, or something that'll wear beautifully for the life of your home, there's a green flooring option out there, from bamboo to hardwood, cork to linoleum, carpet tiles to rammed earth. Read our Green Materials Guide for Flooring for the full story.

Green Kitchen Design Materials

Your kitchen is the heart of your home, so it follows that a lot of time, energy, and money gets spent on just that one room. A green kitchen goes from floor to ceiling -- and the countertops and cabinets in between -- and there's a lot to think about. You need it to be functional, durable, and aesthetically pleasing, so check out the Green Materials Guide for Kitchen Design to learn how to marry all your needs with the best in green materials.

Bathroom Designs with Green Materials

Though bathrooms are often one of the smallest rooms in the house, there is no shortage of design decisions to make to maximize function, beauty, and sustainability. From the best bets for water conservation to the materials designed to stand up to the daily moisture exposure, all the info you need is in the Green Materials Guide for Bathrooms.

Green Wall Coverings

Deciding what goes on your walls can seem like an easy decision -- solids vs. patterns, paint vs. wallpaper -- but it can have a lot to do with the environmental health in your home. Green is much more than a paint color when it comes to wall coverings, but you'll want to pick the right material for the right room, considering how long you want it to stay the same, and how it'll wear over time. There's a lot to think about; get started with our handy Green Materials Guide for Wall Coverings.

Tags: Bamboo | Buildings | Countertops | Heating | Kitchens | Recycled Building Materials

2014 Gift Guide

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK