There’s no doubt about it. The green movement slowly but surely is building momentum, both in the commercial arena as well as the residential market.

Spurring the movement has been an increased awareness by the general public for green products. This is evident by the growing number of commercials touting the environmental aspects of products such as newly designed bottles of water, to cable television shows detailing how (with cost being no object, of course) homeowners can design or revamp their landscaping and homes’ interiors to create a more energy-efficient, environmentally friendly residence.

Re-Greening Homes

This green trend is not for new homes only. The U.S. Green Building Council recently announced a partnership with the American Society of Interior Designers Foundation to develop REGREEN, a “best practices” guideline for home renovation projects.

The groups’ plan is to target the growing remodeling market, a more than $200 billion industry. According to the Web site, www.regreenprogram.org, “This program will increase understanding of sustainable renovation project practices and benefits among homeowners, residents, design professionals, product suppliers and service providers to build both demand and industry capacity.”

A technical committee is developing a manual which can be used by building, design and construction professionals. REGREEN is not itself a certification rating system, but rather is considered to be a complement to the LEED for Home rating system.

LEED for New Homes

Which leads us to the latest development by the USGBC: the LEED for Homes Rating System, which was released in January.

According to the USGBC, “LEED for Homes is a rating system that promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes. A green home uses less energy, water and natural resources; creates less waste; and is healthier and more comfortable for the occupants.” Currently, there are 12,940 homes involved in the program, with more than 500 of them already certified as “green.”

Performance is measured in eight categories: Innovation & Design Process, Location & Linkages, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Awareness & Education. According to the agency, the cost to earn a LEED Home rating can range from $500 to $2,000 for the initial verification tasks. Aside from the cost of greening the home in the first place, the final cost will depend on the size of the home and the type of the rating sought. More information can be found at www.usgbc.org.

Material Specifications a Cause for Concern

It is the Materials & Resources category which, like with previous LEED systems, may cause concern among woodworking companies. Among the specifications for environmentally preferable products is th use of FSC-certified wood. For composite materials to be allowed, they must contain no added urea formaldehyde resin.

According to the Composite Panel Assn., products certified under its EPP (Environmentally Preferable Products) and EPP Downstream programs can qualify for certain LEED credits, including: recycled content MR Credit 4.1, recycled content MR Credit 4.2, regional materials MR Credit 5.1, regional materials MR Credit 5.2 and low-emitting material EQ Credit 4.4.

CPA will revise its specifications to reflect the Phase 1 limits set by the California Air Resources Board to regulate formaldehyde emissions of goods sold or used in California. Beginning Jan. 1, 2009, formaldehyde emissions for particleboard will be 0.18 ppm, MDF and thin MDF will be 0.21 ppm, and hardwood/plywood will be 0.08 ppm.

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