Just as green building encourages new approaches to the design process, so it does with construction. The construction process itself has environmental impacts, and these can be reduced or eliminated by new approaches.
With green construction practices you can:
Protect Site and Stormwater Quality
Seattle’s code relating to surface water quality protection during construction is very pro-active. Make sure your project follows best management practices laid out in the code. See the EPA's Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington.
Maximize Salvage and Recycling
Let your contractor know you want to maximize waste reduction and recycling on the jobsite. Show them the Contractor’s Guide to Waste Prevention and Recycling 2007, authored by King County. It’s full of resources for your construction professional, and the free downloadable PDF is also useful for do-it-yourself home improvement projects that involve any amount of materials removal.
Contact local building materials salvage operations to determine which of the materials being removed from your home can be reused. The Northwest Building Salvage Network’s website offers fact sheets and guides as well as links to salvage & deconstruction providers.
Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Seattle Public Utilities and The ReStore accept reusable building materials at 1350 North 34th Street, just east of the North Transfer Station in Fremont. The ReStore accepts a variety of items, from flooring and cabinets to shelving and non hollow-core doors. For a complete list of acceptable items, visit www.re-store.org. In addition, consider donating building materials to local reuse stores. Visit www.nbsnonline.org for more information.
Store Materials Properly
Keep materials clean and dry. Leaving building materials exposed to the elements can damage or even destroy materials or introduce unwanted moisture into the home during construction—leading to mold and other problems down the road. Be sure you have a clean, dry space to store materials before they’re used.
Protect Indoor Environmental Quality during Construction
Ensuring proper ventilation during construction, maintaining low moisture levels and sealing air distribution systems to avoid contamination help protect a home’s indoor environment down the road. The Greater Vancouver Regional District has resources to help.
With remodeling activity, it’s important to seal the construction area from the rest of the house, especially to avoid the transport of lead-contaminated dust. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a resource for homeowners on preventing lead contamination during remodeling.
Identify Existing Household Hazards
Lead: Most homes built before 1978 have some amount of lead-based paint in them. Remodeling activities can release lead into the indoor environment or the soil around the home. Learn how to deal with lead-based paint with the resources available through the EPA's lead information pages.
Asbestos: This carcinogenic mineral fiber was used in more than 3,000 products, some of which were installed as recently as the late 1980s, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. Learn how to remodel safely by visiting the PSCAA website.
Formaldehyde: The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists formaldehyde, a common material in interior grade adhesives and other building products, as a "known human carcinogen." The most common source of formaldehyde in building materials is composite and engineered wood products. Learn more about formaldehyde at the American Lung Association’s site.
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