Building green in Sacramento
Company offers Sacramentans environmentally friendly products and solutions to paint the town green
Welcome to Green Sacramento, the only building store in the Central Valley exclusively dedicated to bringing you green products and solutions for your home. For the environmentally conscious homeowner, the store feels like a museum, showcasing some of its most exciting materials. Whether it’s the beautifully crafted cork flooring; the sea of vibrant colors and patterns of Marmoleum, a natural linoleum, or the vivid palette of paint or the ice-concrete countertops with recycled glass that look like an artist’s masterpiece, Green Sacramento owner Josh Daniels provides endless design, decorating and building products to beautify your home and complement your values.
What follows is a conversation with Daniels to introduce readers to building green at home.
What are the elements of homebuilding or remodeling consumers can adapt with green materials?
Consumers can incorporate elements of green building into nearly every home project, whether it’s using materials such as concrete made with a high percentage of recycled byproducts, cotton batting or cellulose-blown insulation, or integrating green design and engineering elements that reduce energy waste and increase efficiency.
Green Sacramento focuses on the tangible green elements—the finishing products for the interior of homes and buildings. These include paints that are healthier for inhabitants and the environment, floors that come from sustainable-forestry practices and rapid-renewable resources, such as cork and bamboo. We also carry several lines of beautiful countertops made from a variety of materials, including paper, concrete, recycled glass and petroleum-free resins. And it took two years, but finally I found cabinetry that represents my commitment to sustainability and health. They’re made from Forest Stewardship Council certified, formaldehyde-free plywood with low Volatile Organic Compound finishes.
Can you talk about the technique of salvaging materials to reduce the products consumers need to remodel or build? Is it a technique that works for everyone?
Ingenuity, creativity and determination are all very important elements when developing a green building approach that integrates reclamation and recycling. The tenacious consumer can work with their contractor during the demolition phase of a remodel to salvage materials for reuse—from old cabinetry, copper wire and windows, to wood and broken-up concrete used in landscaping. Many of my customers are committed to salvaging materials. One saved the end cuts from two-by-fours to convert into building blocks for kids, and another used the roof sheeting made of old-growth redwood—thought to be nothing more than waste material by their remodeling contractor—into beautiful redwood planks throughout their home. It’s wood that can’t be found anymore.
The major limiting factors to greener building approaches, especially those that involve salvaging materials, are time and experimentation, which cost money. But, ultimately, green approaches allow us to live in beautiful homes that reflect our environmental values.
Prior to engaging in green homebuilding or remodeling, what do consumers need to know about the integrity of products with “green” or “sustainable” labels? How can consumers ensure they’re purchasing materials that support their environmental values?
Right now there is no governing body that regulates green standards, which makes it difficult to distinguish legitimate products from materials produced by companies guilty of green washing—loosely or inappropriately claiming a product is “green,” which is not a well-defined term, misleading consumers about a product’s qualities.
If people have questions, call us here at Green Sacramento. Consumers can also get good advice from one of the best resources, Build It Green in Berkeley, at www.builditgreen.org, as well as Building Green at www.buildinggreen.com and Natural Home Magazine.
How does the cost of green products compare with conventional materials? Do green products pay for themselves over time?
What is the cost for quality, health and personal values that people are willing to consider? Most green products are often compared against lower-quality conventional products. To be green, I believe something has to be of the highest quality and durability. Many conventional products aren’t meant to last as long and are made with cheaper materials. When compared to other elegant, high-quality materials in the conventional market, green products are not more expensive, but rather fall within the realm of their competitive set.
Simplicity is a core green value, so hopefully people will use fewer materials and be willing to pay for higher quality and healthier products that have a lower impact on the environment. And, yes, green materials and practices may cost more than typical conventional products, but through energy savings and durability they will pay for themselves and save money over time.
How can consumers confirm contractors and architectural firms are sufficiently qualified to implement a green home design?
Build It Green recently held the first of several Certified Green Building Professional programs, training residential architects, designers, contractors and building professionals to increase opportunities for homeowners to build in a more sustainable manner. Consumers can check to see if professionals are certified through this program or through the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program.
Consumers can also educate themselves and ask professionals what they know about passive solar design, energy and resource efficiency and incorporation of green materials and practices into design, specification and building processes. If they don’t understand the questions or if they seem resistant, move on. If they are familiar with green approaches, are willing, interested and excited to speak with you about the subjects, you’ve hit the mark!
What books would you recommend for the novice green builder?
The New Ecological Home and The Natural Home, both by Daniel D. Chiras, and Green Building Products The Greenspec Guide to Residential Building Materials, edited by Alex Wilson.
Green Sacramento is at 1837 Fulton Avenue. You can reach Josh Daniels and his associates at (916) 483-4332 or visit www.greensacramento.com.