Green Building Trends: Eco-friendly products offer greener homes and offices

The move toward sustainability continues to grow, and Intown residents are finding more ways to incorporate it into their lives. Home designers and builders report that while they do get clients looking for environmentally-friendly designs and materials, it’s not yet a regular request.

“I honestly think it’s mostly due to a lack of knowledge of what products are out there,” said Rick Goldstein, Owner/Registered Architect, MOSAIC Design + Build. “As these products and practices become more advertised, I believe people will begin requesting green products more and more.”

In Atlanta, he said, it’s the Intown homeowners who seem to be much more in tune with sustainability and green practices, especially those living in the older 1920s neighborhoods, like Candler Park, Grant Park and East Atlanta.

Randy Glazer, owner, Glazer Design & Construction, said that he’s seen interest growing in the Decatur and Virginia Highland areas. “Some cities are enforcing stricter rules and regulations, and promoting energy efficient materials,” he said — and that’s helping push greener building products.

There’s a definite increase is in the desire for energy efficiency, which some homeowners equate with green, according to Goldstein. “Better insulation, a tighter building envelope, more efficient HVAC and water heating — these are more green because they decrease energy needs,” he said.

Goldstein added that almost all of his clients incorporate a recycling area somewhere in their kitchen, as it’s an easy way to encourage green practices. “We’ve also had several clients interested in the new Tesla solar roofing,” he said, “and a number of homeowners want electric car charging stations as well, even if they don’t yet have an electric car.”

He listed some environmentally-friendly building products that are becoming more common. Low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and adhesives cut down on emissions. LVT (luxury vinyl tile) has a backing made with cork, a sustainable material due to its rapid regrowth. Low E (emissivity) glass windows reflect heat; and low-flow products for faucets, shower heads and toilets conserve water.

Glazer noted that while his clients are also interested in energy efficiency and renewable energy, some are moving toward the latest building trend: disaster-resilient housing. “They want resiliency, products that can withstand Mother Nature,” he said.

With the change in weather patterns, homeowners now look for structures that can withstand extreme storms, strong winds and flooding. This can be achieved through designs like aerodynamic exteriors, wind-resistant roofs and elevated buildings.

Green trends extend to office and commercial building as well. Some of the sustainable construction products that Glazer uses include the VersaDry Track System, a construction system that protects drywall from moisture and mold; the Grayworks modular graywater system to decrease water consumption; airflow panels to increase heating and cooling efficiency; and SunPower solar carports, which uses solar panels to protect cars while collecting the sun’s energy.

Designs for home and office interiors are moving in the same direction. “Again, we’re incorporating things that are sustainable and healthy,” Glazer said, “like eco-friendly paints and primers and floor refinishes.”

Reclaimed wood has become very popular, according to Goldstein, and it can be used for all sorts of applications, including accent walls, flooring, countertops and furniture. “It has a neat look and can give off a rustic or modern vibe, depending on what you pair it with,” he said.

“LED lighting is big, not only from the standpoint of cost savings, but from an aesthetic standpoint as well. It functions with less heat output, which means less work for the air conditioner,” Goldstein said. “We incorporate LED lighting into almost every project that we do.”

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