Green building looks at the whole house and how systems interrelate, including impacts on the health and comfort of occupants. Choosing products is an important part of the process. Some green building products have measurable benefits for homeowners, such as using less electricity or not off-gassing formaldehyde. Others have attributes that likely reduce their impact on the environment, such as recycled content or local manufacture. Selecting products with multiple benefits and attributes is the best approach.
Product and company directories
- Building Materials Reuse Association provides searchable directory of Minnesota companies that sell and/ or accept used or surplus building materials.
- Certified forest products come from sustainably managed forests and can be tracked all the way to the supplier (chain of custody). Search for products at www.ra-smartwood.org.
- Shop the Frog is an online directory of products bearing the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal.
- Energy Star lists products, manufacturers, and store locations for energy-efficient appliances, heating and cooling products, home electronics, lighting, windows and doors, and more.
- A subscription-based online directory, BuildingGreen's GreenSpec Directory lists more than 2,200 environmentally preferable products.
- Minnesota Recycled Products Directory contains sections on construction and landscaping building products made with recycled materials by Minnesota manufacturers.
- The Minnesota Energy Information Center offers the latest news and features on energy programs and energy-related topics.
- WaterSense, a program of U.S. EPA, provides listings of water-saving, high-performing products and services.
Retail showrooms and sales outlets in Minnesota
Energy-efficient and renewable energy products
- Conservation Technologies, Inc. offers energy-efficient building supplies, including ventilation, dehumidification, caulk and foam sealants, and renewable-energy products.
- Shelter Companies sells a variety of ultra energy-efficient building products, including water heaters, bathroom fans, whole house ventilators, and more.
Surplus and salvaged reusable building products
Check the local yellow pages under Salvage-merchandise for vendors of reusable building products.
- Common Ground's services include construction and general contracting work, specializing in "Green Communities" building techniques including cement fiberboard siding, reduced PVC use, and the integration of used building materials when approved by the owner. Common Ground currently serves as the General Contractor for all of the new homes and rehabbed homes for Northern Communities Land Trust.
- Habitat for Humanity ReStores carry used and surplus building materials. For Minnesota locations visit www.habitat.org/restores/directory/mn.
Sustainably harvested forest products (FSC chain of custody)
- Aitkin Hardwoods has FSC chain of custody for manufacturing solid hardwood flooring, tongue & groove paneling, and standard and custom molding. On-site millwork facility and retail sales. Contact Marcy Coit for more information. 45216 Highway 210 West (4 miles west of Aitkin on Hwy 210), Aitkin, MN 56431, 1-888-927-6515, www.aitkinhardwoods.com
- Scherer Brothers Lumber has FSC chain of custody for dimensional lumber, sheet goods and interior millwork. On-site millwork facility can manufacture custom moldings. 9 Ninth Avenue NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413, 612-379-9633, www.schererbros.com
- The Reuse Center carries FSC certified chain of custody flooring and paneling, much of it harvested from Minnesota forests. FSC eucalyptus stock lumber also available. 29th Street and 21st Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55407-1226, 612-278-7160, www.thereusecenter.com/lumberwarehouse.html
Verification and testing
- Home performance testing includes blower door testing, inspection of mechanical systems, insulation inspection, and carbon monoxide testing. The Minnesota Building Performance Association lists home performance consultants at www.mbpa.us/existinghomes.htm
- Radon testing information and how to obtain kits can be found at the Minnesota Department of Health website or by calling 651-201-4601 or 800-798-9050. www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/radon/radontestresults.html
Construction and demolition waste: recycling and reuse
- RethinkRecycling provides information about reducing, reusing, recycling, and disposing of hazardous waste generated from home improvement and construction projects in the Twin Cities metro area. www.rethinkrecycling.com
- Twin Cities Free Market is a listing service for residents who want to give or get free reusable home renovation items. www.twincitiesfreemarket.org
"Big box" retailers
Home Depot and Lowe's home improvement stores carry ENERGY STAR products. Look for the ENERGY STAR logo on light fixtures, programmable thermostats, ceiling fans, insulation, windows, doors, and skylights. Both retailers also have adopted the sustainable forestry principles of the Forest Stewardship Council and carry some FSC-certified products. Look for the FSC label.