Green products and green building materials have some or all of the following characteristics:
• Low embodied energy (total energy to make, distribute and use the product).
• Recycled-content and/or can be easily recycled after use.
• Uses renewable resources from forests and agriculture.
• Harvested, extracted and processed within 300 to 500 miles, supporting regional economies and reducing transportation.
• Energy efficient in operation, such as high-R-value glazing products.
• Low or no environmental impact in manufacturing as well as in use and disposal.
• Durable (this is an often overlooked attribute of green products, but quite important).
• Minimize waste in manufacture and use, including engineered wood products from scrap.
• Positive social impact, contributing to health and well-being.
• Affordable, preferably lower cost than conventional alternatives with fewer green characteristics.65
What makes a product green? That's a question that admits no clear answer, particularly as green products become more mainstream (i.e., when you can buy them at Home Depot, Lowe's or Ace Hardware, rather than from specialty distributors or retailers). Some examples of green products are:
• Innovative lighting controls and new uses for ultra-high-efficiency LEDs (light-emitting diodes).
• Renewable energy systems, or processes promoting the use of renewable energy.
• New forms of building glazing that save energy by reducing heat gain/ loss.
• Smart irrigation controls that save water by only applying it when the soil is dry.
• Low-flow showerheads, low-flow sinks, water-free urinals or dual-flush toilets.
• Permeable paving products that allow water infiltration onsite.
• Modular green roof technologies that allow lower costs and ease of installation.
• Engineered wood products for decking, sheathing and framing lumber that use far fewer materials than conventional products, or use materials that would formerly have been considered waste .
• New products using certified wood in furnishings, engineered wood and furniture.
• Polished concrete floors that reduce the need for finished floors in a building.
The LEED rating system is certainly driving the development and production of green products, even though it doesn't reward specific products with any individual points in the rating system. Rather, in many cases, it is the cumulative total of all products with a certain green feature that garners the particular point. In response to growing market demand, many new green products are introduced each year.66
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