Building Local | Green Building Materials
As green builders, we know our homes will not only create healthier living environments for the owners, they will also have a smaller impact on the environment. While building techniques and practices are a big part of what we do, the materials are also critical.
Technology has made material innovation move at lightning speed, which means there are more green building materials on the market today than ever before. To help you narrow down your options, we are sharing a few of our top choices from the Colorado market and why we love them.
New Colorado-Made Green Building Materials
Development in green building materials creates more opportunities to build better and more sustainable homes. Supporting Colorado businesses and buying local nurtures relationships in our industry and pushes manufacturers to continue developing quality products.
- EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam made in Denver is far less expensive and more environmentally friendly than buying blue board insulation or other closed cell foam. The foam offers similar R-values in the long term and does not degrade over time like other insulation.
- We love using porcelain tile and engineered flooring, such as alternative hardwood flooring. Both of these options allow us to be creative with interior finishes while staying on budget. They are beautiful, functional and come at a fraction of the price of hardwoods.
- Alpen Windows, based in Niwot, make some of the highest performing windows in the world, and they are made right here in Boulder County. These windows are made with a thin film inside the insulated glass to create separate 3-5 air layers. They outperform triple glazed windows from other manufacturers for less cost.
- We’re also excited to see more choices of laminate cabinets made in Denver. They make a big difference not only in lowering cost, but in lowering our carbon footprint.
Green Products We Use on Projects
photo source: Solar Pro
Part of green building is reducing our carbon footprint on the job, which is why we buy local products whenever possible. When materials have a shorter distance to travel it cuts down on gas emissions, and we are supporting local businesses at the same time.
- We really try to focus on local sources and manufacturers—stone from Lyons, Masonville, and La Porte. We use Beetle kill wood paneling, recycled snow fence siding, and purchase doors and cabinets made by small artisan shops in Berthoud and Loveland.
- We typically choose engineered flooring instead of traditional solid wood over radiant heat floors. Engineered flooring requires a fraction of the real wood veneer, which saves on resources. Plus, it is more stable over heat—the flooring does not have the expansion and contraction issues real wood has when installed over heated floors.
- PV (photo voltaic) Systems are a great investment because they last forever and require zero maintenance and upkeep. The Federal 30% tax credit also makes it quite affordable. We try to incorporate whole-house fans to take advantage of our cool Colorado nights and bring natural fresh air into the home. Cool the home at night and close it during the day and you will not need A/C.
- We try to make the exterior finishes maintenance free which save significant energy and materials over the life of the home. Use materials like sustainably grown wood products and metal that is made from recycled materials. Giving our clients a green home in whatever way possible, no matter how big or small, is a win for us.
- All of our homes have formaldehyde free, low VOC finishes and we install air systems to keep indoor air fresh since the envelopes are so tight. These non-toxic interior finishes have been our standard practice for over 10 years.
Misconceptions About Green Building Materials
The materials we use are only a part of the larger puzzle when building a sustainable home. We still hold green building practices at the highest level to create an energy efficient household.
- The biggest component of building green is not in the materials. It is building a well-insulated, thermally broken, and air tight envelope that makes for an energy efficient home requiring minimal heating and cooling for the life of the home. You cannot go back and retrofit a poorly built envelope, which is why we build tight envelopes to give the home the highest energy efficiency possible.
When you dig into the details, green building becomes more complex due to the constantly evolving world of new products and methods while delivering the design and quality our client’s demand. Building Science has come a long way in even just the last 5 years, and CCBI employs the latest “best practices” in every project. We have always been committed to creating structures that minimize their impact and promote healthier living and a sustainable future. Whether it is a small remodel, a pop top, or a large new custom home, we get the details right.