Environmentally-friendly materials: the right and affordable choice
WOOD: REIGNS GREEN SUPREME
To support our economy and participate in the fight against climate change, we must choose wood from Quebec for the home’s frame, moldings, exterior coating, roof, walls, floors, built-in furnishings (bathroom and kitchen cabinets, etc.) and even the insulation. To go even further, choose FSC, CSA or SFI1 certification.
Untreated wood acts as a sink for greenhouse gases (GHG), which means that it captures the CO2 content in the atmosphere and absorbs it, even after it is cut. Containing very low levels of VOCs, untreated wood is not only environmentally friendly ... it is also very beautiful!
The ERE 132 architects understood this very well: wood is absolutely everywhere in the home! Note: avoid tropical wood at all costs, often derived from clear-cut logging that irreversibly destroys ecosystems and targets species on the brink of extinction. As for chipboard, make sure it’s without urea-formaldehyde, which can be quite difficult to find.
1 - FSC: - Forest Stewardship Council (independent certification which takes into account environmental and social criteria in the exploitation of the resource) CSA: Canadian Standards Association SFI: Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Solid wood, prefabricated factory panels, double-stud framed walls: opt for environmentally-friendly materials which, not only functioning from the ecological prospective, are also very durable. Your home will not have to be renovated for a long time: imagine the savings! Don’t hesitate in planning the design structure well ahead of time in order to prepare and place your orders and avoid losses and waste. The ideal option is engineered wood designed for construction.
The siding or covering of a home is its coat. It prevents damage to the walls and the walls’ composition. The appearance of the exterior of the home is important, that’s for sure, but environmental performance is also important. It is possible to reuse materials for the home’s exterior surface (wood, metal, brick). It is certainly less simple than buying new materials, but it will give a unique charm to the home while being the greenest choice.
You can also use new materials that are environmentally friendly. For the ERE 132 home, we chose local wood, in decline, for the siding. Easy to install, this characteristic siding in Quebec performs well, has a very low grey energy and is recyclable at the end of its life. Other than wood (pine, cedar, larch, spruce), masonry products (brick and stone) also represent good choices because they withstand the elements, lend themselves easily to repair, can be found locally and are very durable. In all cases, the assembly and installation must be perfectly carried out, if not, material sustainability of the home’s envelope could be prematurely compromised.
INTERIOR WALL COVERINGs
Generally speaking, drywall and paint are used as the finishing products for interior walls. But it is also possible to use environmentally-friendly coverings, such as wood panelling, which will bring a certain cachet to a home. Simply choose wood that is durable, local or recycled.
Whether it is laminated (engineered floor) or solid wood, the wood chosen must be FSC certified, or a fast-growing wood (such as bamboo, very durable and easy to maintain), without urea-formaldehyde or other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It must be extracted, treated and manufactured in close proximity to the dwelling (less than 800 km).
The best choice? A reclaimed solid wood floor. For the floor finishes, we opt for natural water-based products, without organic compounds. Concrete, linoleum, stone and slate also represent good choices. They are durable and environmentally friendly.
CABINETS AND CABINET DOORs
Cabinets are often considered to be at the top of the list of offenders of non-environmentally-friendly products. The units and doors are generally made of particle board or melamine, filled with urea-formaldehyde. Ideally, we should opt for cabinets and doors made of local, high quality, reclaimed wood, or even chipboard without urea-formaldehyde - the choice made by the designers of the ERE 132 home for its cabinets.
DOORS AND MOLDINGs
For interior doors, moldings, picture rails, frames, baseboards, cornices and other trims, the most environmentally-friendly choice is still local, high quality, solid wood, especially if the wood is reclaimed or FSC certified Solid wood is generally more expensive, but is more durable and always eco-friendly.
FURNITURE IN SOLID WOOD
Here too, we adhere to the same four criteria : local wood, local manufacturing, environmentally-friendly wood and reclaimed wood (from second-hand furniture or from used materials). In particular, avoid upholstered furniture treated with flame retardants, glued wood that exudes urea-formaldehyde and other VOCs and non-sustainable plastic.
Plasticizers, such as phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) are found everywhere in our everyday lives. They can be harmful, particularly in the presence of a heat source, which is often the case in the kitchen. Kitchenware is readily available in wood. By choosing items in wood, you will limit your exposure to compounds which can cause reproductive, neurological and developmental disorders.