Materials and Waste: Resource Reports


Adhesives have a significant impact on our indoor air quality and are oftentimes more potentially dangerous than the flooring products they adhere. The majority of adhesives produced are based on SB latex, which is the same resin used in carpet backing. Since so much adhesive is used to adhere the flooring material, it is generally considered a very large source of VOC emissions. Most adhesives today still use volative solvents to liquefy the resin material that works to bond the flooring down. Water-based adhesives emit fewer VOC's than solvent-based ones, and are therefore a much safer alternative. Research is currently being conducted on the effectiveness of starch-oil based adhesives, which would also be a good type of alternative to solvent-based adhesives.

Adhesives are used most commonly for securing down flooring surfaces such as carpeting and tile. Additionally, they are used to install cabinetry, sub-flooring, plywood decorative paneling, countertops, and wainscoting. Caulking material is also considered an adhesive and is used on baseboards, windows , tubs, sinks, and moldings.

Ceramic Tile Adhesives

1. CT-12 (Capitol Adhesives ): Solvent-free mastic. Ideal for installing ceramic wall and floor tiles.

Carpet Adhesives and Seaming Tapes

1. Almighty Adhesive (AFM): Water-based adhesive. Ideal for glueing wood laminates and wood. Low odor, non-toxic .

2. Auro No. 385 Natural Carpet Glue (Auro)

3. Bio shield cork adhesive: Water-based elastic glue. Made from natural products. Ideal for use with carpets and cork. Works well with coco, sisal, and jute and wool backings.

4. Hendricksen Naturlich Manufacturer's Adhesive

5. Envirotec Health Guard Adhesive #2027, 2045, 2054, 2055, 2060, 2070, 2080

6. Envirotec Health Guard Seaming Tapes #3070, 3080, 3090, 3093, 3094

Cauling Compounds

1. SafeCoat (AFM): Water-based elastic emulsion caulk. Non-toxic , no VOC , odor-free, flexible, non-sag, easy to install. Replaces oil caulk and putty. Instant sealant with excellent initial and permanent adhesion.

2. 100 percent silicone caulk, or aquarium grade caulk: Available in clear or white. Found at most hardware stores.

Natural Cork and Linoleum Adhesives

1. Safecoat 3 in 1 Adhesive (AFM): Water-based adhesive. Ideal for wall tiles, floor tiles, and carpeting. Low odor, non-toxic .

2. Auro No. 383 Natural Linoleum Glue (Auro): Works well on unfinished cork tiles in a thin bed application. Do not use on floors in humid areas.

3. Bio shield Cork Adhesive: Water-based elastic glue. Made from natural products. Works well on concrete wood .

4. Envirotec Health Guard Adhesive

5. Dri-Tac: Water-based adhesive. Low VOC . Recommended by Dodge-Regopol natural cork flooring manufacturers.

Solvent-Free Adhesives

Latex-based adhesives can be used on trim, paneling, drywall, foam-board, tub surrounds, plastics, metal, masonry, and lumber . These solvent-free adhesives are low in VOCs, durable, freeze/thaw stable, non-flammable, not moisture sensitive, flexible and emit no toxic fumes.

Wood Adhesives

1. Titebond Construction Adhesive (Franklin International): Solvent-free construction adhesive. Ideal for plywood, paneling, hardboard, wet lumber and frozen lumber.

2. Timberline 2051 Wood Flooring Adhesive (Timberline): Works well on laminated plank and parquet flooring.

3. PL/OSI line of adhesives (OSI Sealants Inc.): Low VOC line, including SF-565 VOC compliant construction adhesive.

4. Elmer's Carpenter's Glue (Elmer's): Water-based adhesive for porous material. Low odor, non-toxic .

5. 100 percent Pure Silicone Caulk (DAP/Dow Corning Products): Sub-floor adhesive. Available at Home Depot and Ace Hardware.

Alternative Building Materials

Building materials used that are considered outside the norm. This does not imply they are not readily available.

Non-timber resources are specifically listed here ( by the Rainforest Information Centre. Nearly one hundred resources are listed.

Biodegradable Resources

These resources go back to nature rather than the landfill when they are properly used and disposed. Unfortunately, many are landfilled and thus buried where they may not break down as well. Proper use and disposal of these resources as materials reduces and eliminates waste.


As with other building products like windows and flooring , for instance, ceilings can be green if they are constructed with proper materials, are energy efficient, and are manufactured in an environmentally friendly manner. One company in particular, Armstrong World Industries, produces a line of environmental ceiling materials which contain up to 79 percent recycled material. The forms of recycled material include mineral slag, telephone books, newsprint, and cornstarch. Recycled ceiling tiles are durable, damage-resistant, and long-lasting. During the production of these ceiling tiles, Armstrong World Industries’ primary emission is steam.

Armstrong World Industries began a program (Armstrong Ceilings Recycling Program) that enables used mineral fiber ceilings tiles to be reclaimed and recycled into new ceilings. Armstrong collects used tiles and recycles them. This option is often less expensive than transportation costs and landfilling fees. It is a good environmental alternative, lessening the number of ceiling panels entering landfills. Other companies are now following Armstrong’s example. Environmental Acoustics and Sellen Construction also recycle ceiling tiles.

Armstrong World Industries produces a line of mineral fiber and wood fiber ceiling tiles that not only contain recycled material, but also are highly light reflective. Up to 89 percent of ambient light is returned to individuals in the room. Having high light reflectance ceiling tiles reduces the need for additional lighting systems and eases occupants’ eyestrain, creating a more pleasant indoor environment . Regular commercial tiles absorb light and therefore require the installation and use of more lighting fixtures. When more lights are installed, efficiency decreases, because more energy is needed to run the lights and to remove the excess heat generated by the additional lights. Ceilings that are not reflective cause the lighting system to be less efficient. Armstrong ceiling tiles are very durable, painted with water-based, low VOC paint, and have high acoustic performance.

1. Armcom Distributing Company (Saint Louis Park, Minnesota)

2. Armcom Distributing Company (Eagan, Minnesota)

3. The Winroc Corporation (Bloomington, Minnesota)

4. Allroc Building Products (USA) Ltd. (Oakdale, Minnesota)

5. Armstrong World Industries (Lancaster, Pennsylvania): Recycled content .

6. Bio Fab (Redding, California): Resource efficient. Strawboard acoustical ceiling panels.

7. Celotex Corporation (Tampa, Florida): Recycled content .

8. Fiber Rock Canada (Uxbridge, Ontario): Resource efficient. Natural fiber panels.

9. Martin Fireproofing Georgia, Inc. (Elberton, Georgia): Resource efficient.

10. Tectum, Inc. (Newark, Ohio): Resource efficient. Natural fiber panels.

11. USG Interiors Inc. (Chicago, Illinois)

12. Eurostone™ All-Environment (Chicago Metallic): Manufactured from volcanic perlite, which is a ceramic clay. All natural materials, no VOCs. Lightweight, non-flammable. Unaffected by heat, moisture and bacteria. Ideal for school buildings. Available in a variety of patterns and colors. Recyclable. Contain no mineral fibers.

13. Nuage Ceiling Panels (Formglas): Compact, high in sound absorption, easy to install, moisture-proof, recyclable. Durable, smooth surface, easy to maintain.

14. The Gage Corp.: Aluminum tiles. Over 50 percent post-consumer recycled material. Recyclable. Available in a variety of patterns and textures.

15. Tectum, Inc. (Newark, Ohio): Natural fiber tiles, made from strands of aspen wood . Free of mineral wood fibers. High in sound absorption, high reflectivity.

The following ceiling options are made of varying amounts of recycled materials. Many Armstrong ceilings can be ordered with higher percentages of recycled content . This company also recycles its scraps and reuses them in the manufacture of their ceiling products.


1. Armstrong World Industries: Contain 25 percent post-industrial recycled glass.

Gypsum Board Panels

1. USG Interiors: Ceiling tile from synthetic gypsum, recycled paper and mineral fiber, which is produced from slag, a byproduct of steel making.

2. United States Gypsum Company (Chicago, Illinois) (

3. BPB (

4. BPB Formula (

5. GP Gypsum Corporation (

6. Gypsum Association (USA) (


1. Armstrong World Industries: Contain 25 percent recycled content .

2. Specialty Ceilings : Tegular

3. Specialty Ceilings : Vector

4. Specialty Ceilings : Concealed Beveled

5. Specialty Ceilings : Serpentina

6. Specialty Ceilings : MetalWorks Vault

7. Specialty Ceilings : RH200 Plank System

8. Specialty Ceilings : RH200 Curved Plank System

9. Specialty Ceilings : RH215 Plank System

10. Specialty Ceilings : Tartan

11. Specialty Ceilings : Fastrack

Mineral Fibers

1. Armstrong World Industries: Commercial applications range from 22 percent to 78 percent recycled content .

2. USG Interiors: Ceiling tile from synthetic gypsum, recycled paper and mineral fiber, which is produced from slag, a byproduct of steel making.

Reclaimed Panels

1. Tectum, Inc. (Newark, Ohio): Natural fiber tiles, made from strands of aspen wood . Free of mineral wood fibers. High in sound absorption, high reflectivity.

Wood Fibers

1. Armstrong World Industries: Wood panels contain 45 percent recycled content .

2. Specialty Ceilings : Tegular

3. Specialty Ceilings : Vector

4. Specialty Ceilings : Solitar Canopies


1. Safecoat Durostain (AFM): Water-based interior and exterior wood finish stain. Durable, low odor, fast-drying, tolerated by chemically sensitive individuals, low VOC . Enhances wood’s color and tone, variety of colors available. Contains no aniline dyestuffs, waxes, coal tar, or aromatic solvents. Works well on furniture and siding. Fast-drying, easy to clean up.

Natural Oil and Stain (plant-based)

Stains, sealants , and protectors made from soybean, linseed, and other natural oils mixed with wax. Durable finishes will not crack, peel, or flake. Allow wood to breathe. Have very high coverage, double that of conventional stains. Small amounts of white mineral spirits in stains keep wax from clumping. Works well on wood and other surfaces. Offers ultraviolet protection. Low odor, low-toxic . Easy to clean up. Costs less than other premium stains.

1. Eco-Wise Building Supply Company (Austin, Texas) (

2. Eco-Products (Boulder, Colorado) (

3. Auro Natural Paints and Finishes (Petaluma, California) (

4. (


Carpet serves as a harbor for dust, dirt, bacteria, and mold. Many off-gass VOCs and are made with toxic chemicals . A few promising alternatives include bamboo flooring , wood flooring, natural linoleum, tile, cork, and concrete flooring. If carpet is necessary, choose one made of a natural fiber such as wool or sisal, instead of synthetic carpeting. If natural fiber carpeting is not an option, 100 percent nylon is safer than other synthetic carpets. Often, the carpet backing or adhesives used emit toxic chemicals that are harmful; therefore, choose natural carpet backing, non-toxic adhesives and/or tack-down installation. Carpet should not be installed in kitchens, laundry rooms, or bathrooms, because in these moist areas mold can be a problem.

Another flooring option that should generally be avoided is vinyl. Vinyl flooring contains PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which is toxic and dangerous to the environment and ourselves. Dioxin, a chemical by-product of PVC production, is highly toxic, as are a number of other chemicals .


Looks like regular wood flooring , but it is much more durable and long-lasting. Bamboo has a short growing time, so it is a rapidly renewable resource. It is harvested every four to six years, and after harvest, it re-sprouts quickly. Bamboo is 12 percent harder than maple and 58 percent more stable than oak. It will accept standard finishes . This flooring is resistant to stains, scuffs and water. Bamboo flooring generally has a 100-year lifetime.

1. Bamboo Hardwoods (

2. California Bamboo Flooring Co. (

3. BamPlank, Bamboo Depot (

4. Eco-Wise Building Supply Company (Austin, Texas) (

5. Eco-Products (Boulder, Colorado) (

6. Sustainable Flooring (Boulder, Colorado) (

7. (

Commercial Carpeting

Long-lasting product that is made primarily from recycled content . When finished with product, return to manufacturer to be recycled.

1. Eco-Products (Boulder, Colorado) (


Cork flooring is another natural and durable material, which has a unique and warm aesthetic. It is harvested in a sustainable manner when it is taken from the cork oak every nine years without causing harm to the tree. It has an insulating quality, noise-dampening capability, and is impermeable and fire retardant. Cork is also easy on joints, because it gives under pressure. Cork floors are not recommended in really wet areas. They will withstand furniture and other stresses. Cork floors are less expensive than hardwood and comparably priced to tile. Since the majority of cork floors are shipped from overseas, mainly Spain and Portugal, transportation and the required energy involved would be problematic.

1. Natural Cork

2. Dodge-Regupol

3. Hendricksen Naturlich

4. Eco-Wise Building Supply Company (Austin, Texas) (

5. Eco-Products (Boulder, Colorado) (

6. Sustainable Flooring (Bouldar, Colorado) (

7. Natural Home Products (


Concrete with pigment color integrated into the material is available. It can be painted or sealed with a clear (non-toxic ) sealant for a more modern or industrial appearance.

Cotton Carpet Pad

Carpet padding made from cotton. Can be recycled or virgin cotton. No formaldehyde , chemicals , glues, or other irritants are used in the production of this product. Produces no toxic off-gasses. Excellent insulator.

1. Eco-Products (Boulder, Colorado) (

FSC-Certified Wood Flooring

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines address environmental, economic, and social aspects of forestry management practices. Look for the FSC logo on wood products purchased. Other wood certification entities exist (such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative), but with less rigorous standards.

1. EcoTimber (

2. Hayward Lumber (

3. Whitethorn (Whitethorn, California)

4. Parquet By Dian (Gardena, California)

5. Endura Hardwood Products (Oregon)

6. Cascadia Forest Goods (Oregon)


This is a viable local product. It is more expensive than some other alternatives, but is highly valuable. Granite is natural stone and must be permanently harvested. This type of resource would be used mainly for flooring , but also possibly for countertops.

1. Eco-Products (Boulder, Colorado) (


Recycled and new hardwood is available; both are somewhat renewable resources. Forest products are a good option, if harvested in a sustainable manner. Installing a recycled hardwood floor will slow the rate of cutting trees.

1. Eco-Wise Building Supply Company (Austin, Texas) (


Offers the same qualities as granite.

1. Eco-Products (Boulder, Colorado) (

Natural Fiber Carpeting

1. Eco-Wise Building Supply Company (Austin, Texas) (

2. Alison T. Seymour, Inc.: Coir, seagrass, and sisal carpeting. Used as flooring and wall covering.

Natural Linoleum

Vinyl flooring is sometimes referred to as “linoleum.” As stated above, this type of flooring should be avoided. Natural linoleum is a much better alternative, made of linseed oil, jute, and pine resins. It is durable, can be used for any room, and will last the lifetime of the building. It is also relatively inexpensive. This surface continues to harden over time, and therefore, becomes more durable with age. It is not a source of VOCs and does not off-gas any toxic chemicals . Natural linoleum retains twice the indentation resistance of vinyl composite tile (VCT) and is very low-maintenance. Natural linoleum manufactured by Forbo and Armstrong can be purchased at most flooring or home improvement stores.

1. Eco-Wise Building Supply Company (Austin, Texas) (

2. Eco-Products (Boulder, Colorado) (

3. Sustainable Flooring (Boulder, Colorado) (

Plycem Cement Boards

These are new, innovative green products. They contain 20 percent recycled materials. These boards are made of 72 percent Portland Cement, 20 percent mineralized cellulose fiber, and 8 percent calcium carbonate. They can be used for counter tops, flooring , and ceiling tiles. These tiles are non-combustible and weather-resistant.

Reclaimed Wood Products

Conventional structures and finishing products can be made from recycled and reused/reclaimed wood products. This alternative lessens the number of trees being cut down.

1. Manomin Resawn Timbers (Forest Lake, Minnesota) (

2. Mountain Lumber (Ruckersville, Virginia) (

Recycled Carpeting

Although carpeting in general is not recommended, recycled carpeting (PET) can be a slightly better alternative. Image Carpeting recycles plastic bottles and makes carpet from them. This single company alone deters over 100 million pounds of PET plastic from entering landfills and transforms it into carpeting annually. PET carpet reduces the use of virgin materials and finds use for recycled bottles. Less energy is therefore needed than in the production of virgin carpet. Additionally, the dying process is less polluting than traditional virgin carpet.

1. TimberGrass (Butler Johnson Corp.) (

2. Eco-Wise Building Supply Company (Austin, Texas) (

3. Eco-Products (Boulder, Colorado) (

4. Green Seal’s Choose Green Guide ( This site provides links to manufacturers.

“Synthetic” Look-Alikes

Made from recycled paper or other agricultural waste products (like wheat straw and crop residue), these products mimic conventional products. They are manufactured semi-locally.

1. Phenix Biocomposites (Mankato, Minnesota) (


While some tiles are lead-based, or are coated with radioactive glazes, alternatives such as ceramic tile are made with natural material. Non-toxic adhesives , mortars, and grouts should be used for installing the tile. Slate tile is another good alternative. Slate is a naturally-formed rock. It is long-lasting and relatively maintenance-free. Slate can be used anywhere wood , ceramic, porcelain, and carpets are used, but it must be mined, and it takes a long time to form in nature.

Recycled glass tiles are exactly what the name suggests. They are used in bathrooms for floors or in showers. They are stronger than ceramic tile (withstand freezing and thawing) and are available in a variety of colors. They can be placed horizontally and vertically. Traffic ceramic tiles are ceramic tiles that contain more than 55 percent recycled glass. They have the same qualities as all recycled glass tiles as far as application and uses are concerned.

1. Walker Zanger (San Francisco, California) (

2. Ceramic Tile Design (San Francisco, California)

3. Floorcraft (San Francisco, California) (

4. Oceanside Glasstile (Carlsbad, California)

5. Terra Green Ceramics (Richmond, Indiana) (

6. Environmental Stone

7. Crossville Eco-Cycle

8. Eco-Cycle Stone

9. Eco-Products (Boulder, Colorado) (

10. Eco-Wise Building Supply (Austin, Texas) (

Wool Carpeting

1. Bio-Floor (Earthweave): Pure wool carpet with cotton and hemp backing. An even better alternative to conventional carpeting and recycled carpeting. No dyes, pesticides, or chemicals . Uses natural rubber adhesives to lock wool fibers together. (

2. Eco-Wise Building Supply Company (Austin, Texas) (

3. Eco-Products (Boulder, Colorado) (

4. Natural Home Products (Sebastopol, California) (

5. Green Seal’s Choose Green Guide ( This site provides links to manufacturers.

Wood Particleboard/Fiberboard

This product is often used for cabinetry, shelving, countertop substrate, doors, subflooring, and furniture . Unfortunately, urea formaldehyde resins are usually added to particleboard, which makes it an unhealthy material to use. Healthier alternatives are below.

1. Truitt & White Lumber Co. (

2. Hayward Lumber (

3. Earthsource Forest Products (

4. Medite II (Sierra Pine): Composite wood boards. No urea formaldehyde .

5. Medex MDF (Sierra Pine): Composite wood boards. No urea formaldehye.

6. Tree Free Particleboard (Pacific Northwest Fiber): Wheatboard and other agricultural-waste fiberboards.


Furniture has the potential to be green in many ways. Outdoor furniture especially can be made of plastic materials of 95-100 percent recovered post-consumer content. Other examples include furniture made entirely of paper or straw.

The Recycled Furniture and Green Furniture Directory ( shows many products and manufacturers of green furniture.

Another Recycled Furniture Directory is ( Besides Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and other states are listed.

Recycled Content Furniture

Some outdoor furnishings made with recycled plastic and other materials, available from local suppliers, are listed along with paints and household items here: Other recycled materials that can be found in furniture are plastic and aluminum.

Baltix Furniture

[email protected]

Address: 2160 Daniels Street, Long Lake, Minnesota 55356

Phone: 763-210-0155

Fax: 763-210-0152

These creators of EcoBUZZ workstations also produce tables, bookcases, and other furniture from sustainable agricultural boards made from wheat straw and sunflower husks, post consumer recycled plastic and newspaper, and post industrial recycled aluminum framework.

Salvaged/Recycled Wood Furniture

Examples of potentially salvageable wood include distressed wood from building materials, barns, recycled pallets, and naturally felled trees. Driftwood and branches are other sources.[i]

An example of particularly old wood being reused in furniture is presented by Arbor Vetum ( reclaimed teak furniture. All of their furniture is made from “carefully salvaged ancient teak timbers” presenting a unique example of specialization. Since this is a U.K. company it is more of an example than a potential supplier.

Living Furniture

Arborscupture and other techniques use live tree trunks to make furniture and other structures by grafting, bending, framing, and multiple planting.

Arborsmith Studios

Address: 1607 Cave Camp Road, Williams, Oregon 97544


Insulation is an important aspect to every green building . It is good insulation that allows a building to be energy efficient, especially when using alternative energy technologies such as passive solar heat. Many problems can arise, however, even beyond the common ones of rotting, termites, and moisture. The common cheap choice of fiberglass brings problems of off-gassing formaldehyde and skin/lung irritating airborne fibers. Problems of asbestos in vermiculite insulation also occur. Plastic foam insulation is commonly made in a process that uses CFCs , HCFCs, and HFCs, molecules that contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer. For more information on why polystyrene and other plastics may not be a good option, visit the packaging section of these resource reports.

It is also important to install insulation around the foundation of the building during construction . Much heat can be lost in the winter through the floor, ground, and foundation due to improper insulation. One must also consider the production energy involved in the created insulation. (All r-value s obtained from[ii] except for cork[iii] and straw.[iv])Air-Krete (R-value 3.9/inch)

This is a spray on foam that hardens after a few days to create a fireproof, non-toxic membrane. Is a good soundproofing agent as well. Downsides include friability, which isn’t an issue in closed cavities, and shrinkage, which has not been proven.[v] Used on Audubon Society Headquarters in New York, but since Air Krete is made from specific talc mined in New York, it is somewhat a more locally relevant material for them. [vi]

Cellulose Insulation (R-value 3.0-3.7/inch)

Made with mostly recycled newspapers, and “it takes at least 40 times less energy to make cellulose than to produce fiberglass insulation .”[vii] New technologies have also allowed production to be cleaner and more resource efficient (get more insulation out of less material). R-value may actually increase at lower temperatures as well,[viii] contrary to fiberglass which decreases in insulation capacity in at lower temperatures.[ix]

Material Distributors, Inc.

Marshall, Minnesota

(507) 532-4463

Northern Insulation Products

Address: 414 East 13th Street 26

Gibbon, Minnesota 55335

(507) 834-6519

Straw Insulation (R-value 2.4-3.0/inch)

A benefit of the straw bale construction option is the thermal properties of the clay or stucco covered straw. “Clay-coated straw has been shown to last over 700 years as a non-deteriorating insulation !!”[x] This is about as low in environmental impact and cost as an insulation can get since the building system itself is the insulation.

Cotton Insulation (R-value 3.0-3.7/inch)

Contains no harmful additives or chemicals . Inno-therm production makes their insulation from primarily recycled cotton fibers ( The Ultra-touch variety manufactured by Bonded Logic, Inc. uses blue jean trimming waste ([xi] Fire safety is biggest issue, as it is not very fire resistant.

Architectural Surfaces, Inc.

Address: 123 Columbia Court

Chaska, Minnesota

(952) 448-5300

Minnesota Hot Rod Hardware, Inc.
Address: 25776 590 Street
Minnesota 55955

Perlite (R-value 2.5-3.3/inch)

A silicate volcanic rock, it is naturally occurring, lightweight, and fireproof. It is crushed into small stones and used as a fill in insulator. It is also rot and termite resistant.[xii]

Alpine Insulations

Address: 1177 North Birch Road

White Bear Lake, Minnesota 55110

(651) 426-7510

Cork Insulation (R-value 3.6/inch)

Very heat resistant and does not give of toxic gases when burnt. Very effective at low temperatures and commonly used in refrigerated areas.[xiii]

Life-Cycle Assessment Systems

When planning for the construction of a new building, it is very difficult to organize all the planning strategies necessary to account for the countless environmental impacts that a building will have over its lifecycle. Even with this manual, a comprehensive analysis may seem insurmountable. Yet by using a life cycle analysis system (LCAs) to gauge your project, you will see that it is much simpler than you think. The idea of life cycle assessment is simply planning ahead. Normally buildings are constructed with little thought given to their future use. However, LCAs allow the design team to plan and analyze the different phases of a buildings life-cycle, from the site selection all the way to its disposal. It also bases its analysis on the traditional issues that must be addressed in any building project: function, performance, aesthetics, and cost.[xiv] In this way LCAs provide a concrete framework from which a specific green building plan can be generated.

One of the main problems that arise in a green building project is determining which environmental benefits are more beneficial. For example, when deciding where to place the building, the best and least environmental harmful site may be on the north side of a hill that isn’t conducive to passive heating. These are the problems that must be addressed in the planning process and that LCAs try to overcome. “The main advantage of the LCA inventory process lies in being able to narrow in on the area where the biggest reductions in environmental loadings can be made.”[xv] LCAs are key tools for accomplishing green building certifications such as the LEED standards and achieving green building awards.


Supported by LEED certification system


Also supported by the LEED certification system

LISA – LCA in Sustainable Architecture

A much simpler and basic program to use. Also, it is free!

Locally-Manufactured Materials

These are important to green building in many ways. One way is the reduction of embodied energy in building materials as a result of less transportation.

Local Recycled Content Product Manufacturers

These are mainly covered in the Local Resources section of this document under Recycled Content Products. Some list resources include:

The EPA CPG Supplier Database ( contains 23 Minnesota, 35 Michigan, 58 Wisconsin, 15 Iowa, 1 North Dakota, and 1 South Dakota suppliers of products that meet the RMAN recommendations for recycled content .

The Recycled Product Consumer Directory and the Recycled Product Business Directory ( list many products and manufacturers.

Local Recycling Programs

These are important for keeping materials in the area, minimizing the economic and ecological impacts of transportation. They can keep money as well as materials in the area.

The Recycling Association of Minnesota ( is the Minnesota affiliate of the National Recycling Coalition ( Its members participate in and learn more about its commitment "to promoting resource conservation through waste prevention, reuse, recycling, composting and purchasing practices using the most cost effective and environmentally sound methods available in Minnesota."[xvi] In-state businesses that manufacture products with recycled content are listed in the Recycled Product Guides (

Occupancy Waste Management System

This is something that should be put in place before occupancy begins. Rules ranging from how things should be disposed of to what products are allowed in the building are options. Most buildings have at least separation of recyclables and non-recyclables.

On-Site Recycling Program

Such a program is an important part of any occupancy waste management plan. Recyclables being sorted by individual consumers as they are discarded should be much more effective in the long run than sorting gigantic amounts of recyclable and non-recyclable trash.


A very important and often overlooked area of green building , the packing material used to transport products can either be a detriment or benefit to your project and to the environment . A very simple principle to follow is to limit packaging as much as possible, but the extent to which this is feasible is limited. Even materials that are transported a short distance none the less must be transported. We also must take into consideration packaging waste and disposal by supporting recyclable and reusable materials. Yet most importantly is an analysis of how different packing materials are produced and manufactured. A study by the Tellus Institute found that only 5 percent of the environmental damage from packing materials comes from their disposal and that the remaining 95 percent is a result of the energy and toxins used to produce them.[xvii] By recognizing those products that can be recycled, reused, have recycled content , and are produced with minimal environmental impacts, our institution can affect the market for these products and insist that the manufacturing companies continue to support environmental friendly packaging material.

A study by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency compared the environmental impact of different packaging materials using a life cycle assessment strategy.[xviii] The study, which included cardboard, glass, tin, aluminum, and various plastics considered numerous environmental impacts such as eutrophication , CO2 emissions, fossil fuel dependence, acidification , recycled content , and waste generation. The results of this study are outlined in the explanation of the following packaging materials.


On the top of the list in high environmental impact, especially in terms of a greenhouse gas contributor and acidification . Also, if aluminum is not recycled it is a contributor to ozone formation (smog).


One of the materials with the lowest environmental impact in all areas. Important to consider sustainable cardboard producers who use sustainable forestry to produce their products. Easily recyclable.


The other material with the lowest environmental impact. Although heavier, it is easily recycled and does not put pressure on fossil fuel s. Not as relevant to green building packaging, but an environmental sound material. Not very biodegradable , so recycling is important.


The study found that some plastics account for the greatest fossil fuel consumption among packing materials, not to mention that these materials are derived from oil originally. The worst plastics in terms of environmental impact are PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and extended polystyrene (e.g. stereo or computer packaging) with their larger impact on the greenhouse effect and acidification . A second group of plastics that have less of an impact are Low Density Polyethylene (garbage bag), High Density Polyethylene (plastic barrels), Polypropylene (packaging tape), Polyethylene terephthalate (pop bottles) and polystyrene (Styrofoam or packing peanuts). However, if used, make sure there is a collection agency nearby that accepts that certain type of plastic (e.g. polystyrene is not recyclable in our area). If not recycled, plastics do not biodegrade.

The following options are even more promising; they were not included in the study.

Wheat Starch Packaging

This is the packing material of choice! Three main benefits: based off of renewable resources of wheat biodegradable , and supports local agricultural industry. With a structure similar to plastic, it could be used in place of polystyrene and polyethylene for many uses. Developed in Australia, this material will compost down completely within 30-60 days.[xix] Clean Green Packaging in Golden Valley, Minnesota produces starch based packing peanuts that dissolve simply by adding water![xx]

StarchTech, Inc.

Address: 720 Florida Avenue

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55426

(800) 597-7225

[email protected]

Corn Starch Packaging

In a joint venture with Dow Chemical, Cargill produced a substance known as polylactice, which is similar to wheat starch packaging but with the base of corn.[xxi] Even better for Minnesota corn growers!

Visit Cargill Dow at for more info.


Most paint contains chemicals and compounds that are harmful to the environment and potentially harmful to us. The pigment for color, the binding agent that holds the pigment to the surface, and the carrier that keeps the pigment and binder liquid are made with chemicals that can be harmful to the environment and ourselves. Harmful substances such as petrochemicals, mercury , benzene, formaldehyde , solvents, lead, chromium, cadmium, dibutyl and diethyl phthalate are found in paint.

High VOC levels indoors are often caused by three common paint solvents, toluene, lacquer, and xylene. VOCs in paint produce ground level ozone . Although VOC emissions from paint will probably never be completely eliminated, there are several companies currently producing paints with better alternatives.

AFM is a leader in development and production of safer and higher quality paints. Other companies are manufacturing paints made with milk protein, lime clay, and earth pigments. More than 25 brands of low-VOC paints are now available, most of which have comparable price ranges as their conventional counterparts. As a general rule, white and light pastel-colored paints contain fewer VOCs, and darker pigments contain more VOCs.

1. Semi-gloss cabinet door and trim enamel (AFM)

2. Safecoat Chembond Masonry Paint (AFM): Masonry and concrete block sealant . Protects against sun and water damage. Ideal for vertical surfaces.

3. Safe Coat primers, paints and sealers (AFM) (

4. Auro Natural Paints (Sinan Company) (

5. Pristine Eco-Spec Paint (Benjamin Moore & Co.) (

6. Bio Shield paints and stains (Bioshield) (

7. Genesis odor-free paint (Duron) (

8. Milk-based (casein) paints and natural pigments (Old Fashioned Milk Paint

Company) (

9. ProMaster Paint (Glidden/ICI) (

10. Livos non-toxic paint and thinners (Livos Phytochemistry) (

11. Tempo Paint (McCormick Paint) (

12. Low Biocide Paint (Miller Paint Company) (

13. Wallboard Primecoat HPV (AFM): Alternative to using regular paint products with high VOC levels. Blocks formaldehyde and other toxic fumes from new building materials. Non-toxic. Works well on new wallboard and textured sheet rock interior concrete walls. Ideal for using over tape joints, textured surfaces, and porous surfaces.

Low-VOC Interior Paint

Contain no ethylene glycol, ammonia, acetone, formaldehyde , or masking agents.

1. SafeCoat (AFM) (

2. Pristine Eco-Spec (Benjamin Moore & Co) (

3. Wonder-Pure No-VOC /Odor (Devoe) (

4. Sierra (Dunn Edwards) (

5. Genesis Odor-Free (Duron) (

6. EnviroKote Low-Odor (Frazee) (

7. ProMaster Low-Odor (Glidden/ICI) (

8. LifeMaster2000 (ICI/Dulux)

9. Interior and exterior zero-VOC paints (

10. Enviro-Cote (Kelly-Moore) (

11. Pure Performance (Pittsburgh Paints /PPG) (

12. Harmony/HealthSpec Low Odor (Sherwin-Williams) (

Natural Paint

1. Livos Naturals (paints and thinners) (

2. Milk-based paints with natural pigments (Old-Fashioned Milk Paint Company) ( Basic ingredients are milk protein, quicklime, and earth pigments. Durable, non-toxic . Contains no petrochemicals, lead, solvents, or harmful additives. Shipped dry, applicator adds water. Unique eggshell-like finish.

3. Eco-Wise Building Supply Company (Austin, Texas) (

4. Auro Natural Paints (Sinan) (

5. ( Site has links to four Minnesota dealers. Natural paints.

Non-Toxic Paint

ChemSafe Brand paint contains no fungicide. It is low in biocide and uses only natural pigments. Low VOC , low odor immediately when applied, zero odor after one hour.

Non-VOC Paint

EarthTech paints have no off-gassing. No odor once cured, no ammonia, formaldehyde or crystalline silica. Safe enough to be used by chemically-sensitive individuals. Not considered hazardous waste. Easy to clean up, no special storage requirements .

1. Eco-Wise Building Supply Company (Austin, Texas) (

2. Eco-Products (Boulder, Colorado) (

3. Auro Natural Paints and Finishes (Petaluma, California) (

4. (

Recycled Content  

This is a good thing in about any product. As some say, you are not recycling unless you buy recycled.

The consumer and business versions of the Recycled Product Guides available from ( provide lists of products and businesses that use recycled content .

This Virtual Sample Room of Green Building Materials ( provides indexes of suppliers and products available in Canada.

Green Building Products available from Twin Cities retailers ( is a list considering the VOC level, recycled content , and other factors of green products.

Renewable Resources

These resources are important now and will continue to get more important in the future as supplies of nonrenewable resources diminish. They represent options ranging from the standard to the well-known to the truly innovative.


An important factor from siting to materials, the roof that is chosen will have a large impact on its surrounding environment . A bad roof will create water runoff that increases erosion and disturbs ecosystems; it will absorb heat and create heat islands; it will create massive amounts of waste and degradation during its production and construction ; and it will be an eyesore amongst the surrounding environment. Roofing is especially important in Minnesota since it must not only be conducive to rainy springs and hot humid summers but also large loads of snow in the winter. Choosing a viable and long lasting roofing system is therefore a very important decision.

Green Roofs (or garden roofs )

Green roofs are probably the most common example of an environmentally friendly roof, as can be seen by the choice of sod roof for the Seton apartments as St. John’s. Such a roof not only reduces erosion through its absorption capacity, but cuts down on heat reflectivity and blends in with the surrounding environment . Other benefits include energy cost savings from improved insulation , sound insulation, humidity and temperature control, and the potential to recycle water if using a water-based heat exchange system.[xxii] The two types of green roof systems are extensive and intensive; extensive is low weight, cost, and maintenance (e.g. Seton); intensive has deeper soil and more plants.[xxiii] Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and which one is chosen depends on the type of building and commitment of the owner and users. Green roofs are also a great option for flat roofs. .html

Provides much information on landscaping and green roofs in general.

Plant list for green roofs that would be applicable to Minnesota (extensive roofing). This is a very good site that has tons of step-by-step directions and ideas on how to construct green roofs into landscaping plans. There is also a ‘how-to’ section that has several PDF files, which have information on how to construct a green roof.

Roofscapes, Inc.

Listing of twenty successful green roof ing projects done across the country. Roofscapes’ homepage also gives great explanation of the ins and outs of green roofing, along with commonly asked questions and answers.

Lists examples of financial government incentives and regulatory policy initiatives for green roof building.

Tile Roofing

Either made from clay, slate, or cement, tile roofing creates a very durable and aesthetically pleasing roof. Lighter colors increase heat reflectivity and the way they are placed on the roof creates an ambient air space that helps maintain a more stable heat exchange into the building.[xxiv] Commonly thought of as a material restricted to warmer climates, tile roofs are actually very practical in colder temperatures as demonstrated by this building at Vail Ski Resort .[xxv]

Elastomeric Roof Coating System

A water-based and low-VOC substrate, this material is sprayed on top of the already existing roof system. It not only increases durability but also decreases heat island effect by reflecting 85 percent of the suns rays. This reduces heat island effect and increases indoor heat control. Waterproof factor may cause problem with runoff. /roofmate/roofmate_main.htm


Photovoltaic Roofing

This option is probably one of the best systems for achieving environmental sustainability and standards. Although more expensive, the benefits of this system are huge. It utilizes heat to produce energy and lowers energy costs and dependence on fossil fuel s. A benefit is supporting a growing industry that may be the future for sustainable roofing.

Winkelman Building Corporation: Saint Cloud, Minnesota

Supplied by Direct Global Power, Inc in New York. Provides an opportunity to integrate solar panels creatively using a local contractor. Winkelman installs standard metal roofs and applies photovoltaic panels over the top.

Iowa Thin Film Technologies Inc.

Address: 2337 230th Street, Boone, Iowa 50036-7538

Fax: (515) 292-1922

Lake Superior Renewable Energy

Address: 819 Maple Grove Road, Duluth, Minnesota 55811

Telephone: (218) 722-6749

Solar Hardware

Address: 3808 Grand Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55409

Telephone: (612) 824-1111

Recycled Asphalt Roof

This very practical solution may not benefit the building roof during its lifetime, but does a good job addressing disposal issues. “Every year, an estimated nine million tons of asphalt roofing waste ends up in our nation's landfills — at a cost of more than $400 million in disposal fees alone. Yet most manufacturing and tear-off waste from asphalt shingles and roll roofing can be economically and effectively recycled into asphalt pavement for roads and highways.”[xxvi] The Minnesota Department of Transportation now allows 5 percent shingle scrap in highway asphalt mix.[xxvii] Yet another downside is that this material is not as durable as other options.

Good resource for contacts and literature on asphalt shingle recycling .

Recycled Roofing

Produced by EcoStar, this roofing material is made from rubber and plastic to emulate wood and shake roofing. With a 50 year warranty and freeze/thaw resistance, it is a perfect durable material for Minnesota. The ‘majestic slate’ is made from 100 percent recycled material.

Panelshake Roofing

It is made from 90 percent recycled milk jugs and wood fibers. This ‘3 tab’ interlocking roof system is made to look like cedar shake roof tiles and is intended for steeper roofs. This system was used to build the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin, and is a very viable option for a Minnesota climate .[xxviii] The roofing is also 100 percent recyclable after its use. Visit .asp?area=markets.

Duro-Last Roofing System

This technology was developed from the knowledge on pool liners and is made from pre-fabricated, reinforced thermoplastic. The flat roof option, this material reflects 86 percent of the sun’s energy. This company also does a great job closing the loop of their waste cycle. An Oregon sales representative Terry Wyatt said, “There is basically no waste with our product. All of our roofing systems are custom made for every roof, eliminating waste on the job site . Then all waste from the manufacturing process is recycled into our walkpads.”[xxix] It is a member of the EPA Energy Star roof products program. Duro-last has a local outlet in neighboring Iowa. Visit


Address: 1409 E SADC Avenue

Sigourney, Iowa 52591

(877) 556-6700

Fax: (888) 501-3574


Sealants are used as a protective coating to prevent water, dirt or abrasion damage. Because sealants often introduce toxins to a site that negatively affects indoor and outdoor air quality, it is important to choose materials that either do not require additional coatings, or to use sealants with fewer hazards. Sealants and stains can be used for floors, cabinetry and furniture , decking, exterior siding and many other uses.

Conventional sealants are commonly based on petroleum solvents and should be avoided in both interior and exterior applications whenever possible. Petroleum solvent-based oil stains, with dryers, emulsifiers, heavy metals, hardeners, anti-foaming agents, biocides, and fungicides, contain many unstable and toxic chemicals , which are easily emitted into the air. Methylene chloride and chlorinated hydrocarbons are two chemicals to avoid. Toxic vapors are dangerous during application and sometimes up to a year or more afterwards. Butyl rubber, solvent-based acrylic, and neoprene sealants are particularly dangerous and should be avoided. One company, American Formulating and Manufacturing (AFM), produces an entire line of green materials, including sealants, paints, finishes , and adhesives . Many are listed as options here. These products have been used for over twenty years, especially by chemically sensitive individuals.

1. Safecoat Acrylacq (AFM): Water-based sealant . Replaces high solvent lacquers used in furniture sealants. Durable, free of toxic fumes, odorless when dry. Works well with wood , primed metal, painted surfaces, vinyl, and other plastics. Ideal for furniture, doors, and wood cabinetry.

2. Safecoat Acriglaze (AFM): Clear, mildew-resistant glaze. Odorless when dry. Ideal for restoring old finishes and sealing painted surfaces.

3. Polyureseal BP (AFM): Floor finish. Durable, attractive, low odor, low VOC, formaldehyde -free. Works well on wood surfaces. Seals in toxic fumes introduced by particleboard, etc. Can be tinted. Recommended by environmental doctors for their patients. Alternative to polyurethane.

4. Safecoat Hard Seal (AFM): Water-based sealant . Durable, VOC-free, non-toxic . Works well on wood , vinyl, wallpaper, wallboard, furniture , and painted surfaces. Seals in toxic chemical compounds introduced by particleboard, etc.

5. Safecoat Safe Seal (AFM): Water-based sealant . Multiple uses. Ideal for highly porous surfaces, including particleboard, plywood, processed wood and porous concrete. Seals in formaldehyde introduced by particleboard, etc. Odorless when dry.

6. Safecoat Lock-In Wood Sanding Sealer (AFM): Sandable sealant . Fast-drying. When water-based finishes are applied, it reduces raising of grain on raw wood. Prevents bleed-through of natural products in wood.

7. Safecoat MexeSeal (AFM): Water-based sealant . Clear, low odor, non-flammable, non-hazardous. Works well on porous interior tile or masonry surfaces. Ideal for long-term protection.

8. Safecoat Penetrating WaterStop (AFM): Water resisting/repelling sealant . Durable, low odor, non-toxic . Works well on brick walls, concrete foundations, stucco, unglazed tile, and stone.

9. Safecoat WaterShield (AFM): Water resisting/repelling sealant , also helps to harden and dust-proof masonry surfaces. Clear, versatile, fast-drying, easy to apply, non-flammable, non-toxic , lead-free, formaldehyde -free. Works well on painted surfaces.

10. Safecoat Grout Sealer (AFM): Clear, moisture-resistant sealer. Ideal for porous tile grout and other cement surfaces. Non-toxic , formaldehyde -free, odorless when dry. Does not cause discoloration.

11. Safecoat Dynoseal (AFM): Waterproof, vapor-proof sealant , moisture barrier. Low odor, all-weather, flexible, resistant to flame and temperature change. Can be resistant to acids and alkalines, fungi, gasoline, oil, and grease when cured. Acts as a good sound inhibitor as well. Ideal for shower stalls, tubs, pools, saunas, in basements, on roofs, on retaining walls, and around air ducts. Works well on concrete, metal, and wood .

12. Safecoat DynoFlex RoofGuard (AFM): Water-based roof coating. Recommended as top coat for Safecoat DynoSeal. Water-resistant, flexible, durable, low odor. Reflects ultraviolet light, and therefore can lower inside temperature of building significantly. Works well on composition roofs, cured hot asphalt, polyurethane foam, rock roofs, primed wood , metal, masonry, and tilt-up concrete.

13. Safecoat Dynoseal Driveway / Asphalt Sealer (AFM): Top coat for asphalt surfaces. Low odor, reduces off-gassing and unpleasant smells created by new asphalt. Preserves and renews existing asphalt.

14. Safecoat DynoFlex Textured Natural (AFM): Water-based sealant (paste-like or spray types). Works as a sound inhibitor as well. Flexible (expands and contracts with temperature), low odor. Ideal for sealing seams and joints in air-conditioning ducts, damaged asphalt shingles, and metal roof cracks.

Carpet Sealants

1. Carpet Seal (AFM): Water-based carpet sealant . Low odor, non-toxic .

Exterior Wood Sealants (decking, shingles, siding, etc.)

1. Safecoat DuroStain (AFM): Water-based wood finish. Enhances wood’s color and tone. Contains no aniline dyestuffs, waxes, coal tar, or aromatic solvents. Works well on furniture and siding. Fast drying, easy to clean up.

Interior Wood Sealants (floors, cabintry, shelving, furniture , etc.)

1. Safecoat DuroStain (AFM): Water-based interior and exterior wood finish stain. Durable, low odor, fast-drying, tolerated by chemically sensitive individuals, low VOC . Enhances wood’s color and tone, variety of colors available. Contains no aniline dyestuffs, waxes, coal tar, or aromatic solvents. Works well on furniture and siding. Fast drying, easy to clean up.

2. Safecoat AcriGlaze (AFM): Clear, mildew-resistant glaze. Odorless when dry. Ideal for restoring old finishes and sealing painted surfaces.

Joint Sealants

1. SafeCoat Dynoflex Natural Tan (AFM)

POROUS SURFACE SEALANTS (cement, tile, and tile grout)

1. MexeSeal (AFM): Water-based sealant . Clear, low odor, non-flammable, non-hazardous. Works well on porous interior tile or masonry surfaces. Ideal for long-term protection.

Waterproofing (roofs, foundations, and other wet applications)

1. DynoSeal (AFM): Waterproof, vapor-proof sealant , moisture barrier. Llow odor, all-weather, flexible, resistant to flame and temperature change. Can be resistant to acids and alkalines, fungi, gasoline, oil, and grease when cured. Acts as a good sound inhibitor as well. Ideal for shower stalls, tubs, pools, saunas, in basements, on roofs, on retaining walls, and around air ducts. Works well on concrete, metal, and wood .

2. Rub-R-Wall Foundation Waterproofing (Rubber Polymer Corp.): Lifetime limited warranty. Made from synthetic rubber.

3. Xypex Concentrate (Xypex Chemical Corporation) ( Concrete and masonry waterproofing. Cement-based slurry. Non toxic .

Waste Management

This covers everything that goes out of a building – from construction , through occupancy, to demolition. How we use the waste products from our buildings can be as important as what we put into them in the first place. A concept as simple as “waste equals food” can literally revolutionize what we can do with waste.[xxx]

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency ( lists many rules, regulations, programs, and suggestions for dealing with waste. Besides waste management , solid waste and other topics are covered. Since waste prevention is one of its jobs, the MPCA has many checklist and programs like its Environmental Auditing Project (

The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program ( has an A to Z Index specifically on waste. Fact sheets, MnTAP publications on pollution prevention, reference lists, links to MPCA and EPA regulatory information.

Construction and Demolition (C & D) Waste

This represents one-quarter to one-third of all waste landfilled in the U.S., according to the E.P.A. Because so much of this waste is generally reusable, this is a gigantic loss of resources. Understanding what this waste is and how it can be prevented is an important step to building green.

This Canadian web site and organization ( can be taken as an example of one approach to C&D Waste.

Construction Waste Management Plan

This should be put in motion before construction even begins. On-site areas would be designated for the sorting of reusable materials, and the construction crew trained early on so that sorting becomes habitual. This quick fix could potentially reduce construction waste dramatically.

Salvage Operations

Salvage should be done whenever possible. This reuse of materials for the same or nearly the same purpose as the original can be done by your own or other organizations, including charitable ones.

Habitat for Humanity International ( and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ( are examples of charitable organizations that should accept materials.[xxxi]

The Minnesota Materials Exchange ( is a “free service that links organizations that have reusable goods they no longer need to those who can use them.”[xxxii] Businesses have saved $3 million while exchanging eight million pounds of materials through the program in the last five years. Stearns County is not specifically covered by a local program so it is covered by the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP).


(612) 624-1300 or (800) 247-0015

Suzy Mellem

(612) 624-5119, [email protected]

Barb Nesheim

(612) 624-4699, [email protected]


Windows are important structures in all buildings. The materials from which the actual window is made, the potential toxic emissions introduced from the materials used, and the window system’s overall performance and durability all determine whether the window is green. The majority of windows and doors used to be constructed from timber , which was durable and strong. They could be stained or painted as desired.

Unfortunately, alternative materials, such as aluminum, steel, vinyl, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) have been extensively used. Timber is much safer and more environmentally friendly (if harvested in a sustainable way and sealed or painted with non-toxic and low-VOC alternatives).

Aluminum windows have poor thermal performance; they lose two times as much heat as timber frames. Aluminum feels very cold in winter and hot in summer and is very energy intensive to manufacture. After many years, aluminum oxidizes, and it becomes dull and pitted. It cannot be painted. Similar arguments apply to steel windows. Steel is relatively energy intensive to produce and it is difficult to ensure adequate thermal performance because of the thermal conductivity of the material.

Vinyl is a form of plastic that cannot generally be painted. It uses nonrenewable petroleum for extrusion. Vinyl windows are basically maintenance free, but over time, vinyl frames may become overstressed due to numerous radical climatic changes and may become damaged and leak .

Like aluminum and steel, PVC is very energy-intensive to produce. It is very polluting in production; it creates emissions and waste of organochlorines, dioxins, and mercury . Some intermediate products are very toxic and carcinogenic . PVC is almost entirely non-biodegradable and is often landfilled, allowing toxic heavy metal stabilizers and plasticizers to be leached into the environment . Post-consumer PVC is not realistically recyclable . Even if in the future it becomes economically feasible, there would inevitably be emissions of dioxins and other very harmful toxic chemical compounds. PVC window frames are high maintenance and are easily degraded by the sun, becoming brittle and performing poorly.

When designed, constructed, and maintained properly, timber windows can be the best environmentally conscious, green option. They have the potential of lasting the building’s lifetime; if they are properly cared for, they are exceptionally durable. Timber is a renewable resource and is therefore highly recommended, especially if the trees used to build the frames are harvested in a sustainable way. Timber windows are much less energy intensive to produce than aluminum, steel, or PVC. When compared to the other alternative window frame materials, timber has the best thermal properties and is the most energy efficient as a result.

After the framing material has been chosen, the glazing or glass combinations must be decided. Single pane glass used to be the standard, but now, double pane, insulated glass is most commonly used. This is more energy efficient. Triple glaze glass is available but generally only used in very harsh climates. The conductive resistance of the window is increased when a noble gas such as krypton, argon, or xenon is inserted between the two glass panels of a typical dual-glazed window. Additionally, when a material like silver that is very reflective is placed in between the panels, the conductive resistance is also improved. Alternatively, a special coating (low –e*) that also is very reflective is sometimes sprayed onto the panel that faces into the building.

1. Ecoplus System: High-performance range of windows and doors. Durable, environmentally-conscious. Carefully sourced timber and ultra-safe boron timber preservation. Natural, durable wood finishes and water-based glazing with no biocides. Incorporate sealants and building design techniques that greatly improve the durability of the windows. Have high thermal insulation characteristics, are sealed against air leakage , and are installed well. All timber used is completely biodegradable.

2. Marvin Windows : Competitive prices for stock and custom windows.

3. Hurd Windows : High performance suspended film windows.

4. Velux Windows : Skylights and skylight flashing for natural lighting .


[i], “Recycled Furniture and Green Furniture – Directory.” <> (21 April 2004).

[ii] Alex Wilson, “Insulation Materials: Environmental Comparisons,” Environmental Building News, Jan/Feb. 1995, <> (22 April 2004).

[iii]Roof, “R-value,” 1999, <> (22 April 2004).

[iv] U.S. Department of Energy , “House of Straw – Straw-Bale Construction Comes of Age,” April 1995, <>

[v], “Air Krete: Foam Without Plastics,” Environmental Building News, July/August 1997, <> (20 April 2004).

[vi] Oikos: Green Building Source, “Perimeter Slab Insulation,” 1996-2003, <> (20 April 2004).

[vii] Nu-Wool Homepage, 2003 Nu-Wool Inc., < .html> 20 April 2004.

[viii] Daniel Lea, “Comments In Respect Of The Proposed Rulemaking Proceeding To Amend The Trade Regulation Rule Concerning The Labeling And Advertising of Home Insulation.” 11 November 1999, Office Message to the Federal Trade Commission, <> (22 April 2004).

[ix] The Cellulose Insulation Manufacturers Association, “Cellulose Insulation: Codes, Regulations, and Specifications,” CIMA Technical Bulletin #1, <> (22 April 2004).

[x] Planetary Renewal Website, “Natural Insulation – Regulating Heat and Cold,” <> (22 April 2004).

[xi], “Cotton Insulation is Back!” Environmental Building News, November 2000, <> (20 April 2004).

[xii] homepage, “Basic facts about Perlite,” < > (20 April 2004).

[xiii], “Building Products,” 2001, <> (21 April 2004).

[xiv] Public Technology, Inc. and U.S. Green Building Council, “Sustainable Building Technical Manual: Green Building Design, Construction, and Operations,” 1996, <> (19 April 2004).

[xv] Rob Goldberg, “The Big Picture: Life Cycle Analysis,” May 1992, <> (19 April 2004).

[xvi] Recycling Association of Minnesota, “Who We Are,” 19 August 2003, <> (21 April 2004).

[xvii] Stonyfield Farm, “Stonyfield Farm and Environmental Packing,” <> (21 April 2004).

[xviii] Danish EPA, “Environmental Impact of Packaging Materials,” August, 2001. <> (21 April 2004).

[xix] Wilna McMillan, CSiro Online “Wheat Starch Leads to Biodegradable Packaging,” 21 March 2000, <> (21 April 2004).

[xx]Sure Pak, Inc. “Eco-fill,” 21 April 2004, <> (21 April, 2004).

[xxi] Samual Fromartz, “In Green Packaging, Corn Replaces Petroleum,” Environmental News Network, 17 June 2003, <> (21 April 2004).

[xxii] Susan Fischer, “Greenbacks from Greenroofs: Forging a New Industry in Canada.” Improving Quality and Affordability, 1996-2004, <> (20 April 2004).

[xxiii] ibid.

[xxiv] Roof Tile Institute, “The Environmental Advantage of a Tile Roof,” 2003, <> (20 April 2004).

[xxv] Rooftile Institute, “Tile Roofs in Snow Country: The Natural Choice for Aesthetics and Durability,” (21 April 2004).

[xxvi] Heidi Ellsworth, “Roofing Industry Moves to Recycled and Energy Saving Products,” Oikos Green Building Source, 2002. <> (20 April, 2004).

[xxvii] Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, “Roofing Shingles into Roads,” February 2004, (20 April 2004).

[xxviii] Michelle Clark Hucal, “Recycled Roofing,” Environmental Design and Construction, 1 May 2003, <,4120,97795,00.html>, (20 April 2004).

[xxix] Heidi Ellsworth, “Roofing Industry Moves to Recycled and Energy Saving Products,” Oikos Green Building Source, 2002. <> (20 April, 2004).

[xxx] Braungart, Michael, and William McDonough. Crade to Cradle : ReMaking the Way We Make Things. North Point Press, 2002.

[xxxi] University of Minnesota , “Strategy 7.1” Minnesota Sustainable Design Guide . <> (29 April 2004).

[xxxii] “MN Materials Exchange – About Us.” <> (21 April 2004).