Questions to Ask When Looking for the Perfect Green Products

green productsWhen you are selecting building products, you may never find a perfect, green solution. Here are some questions you can ask to make sure you select the best green products:

  1. Can I reuse what I already have?
  2. Can I donate or recycle what I no longer want?
  3. What product can I choose that will last a long time?
  4. Can I select a product that is made from recycled materials?
  5. Can I choose a product that can be recycled at the end of its lifetime?
  6. green productsDoes this product come from a sustainable source?
  7. How much energy did it take to make and ship this product?
  8. How much energy will it take to maintain this product?
  9. What impact does this product have on indoor air quality?
  10. How much does it cost?


Having green products will keep your environment clean, your wallet happy, and your family healthy. Read more about the effects of harmful household products here.

Green Term Defined: Green Building (Part 2)

Green Building continued:

The client is responsible for forming the best possible team to achieve the green building goals they, the client, sets for the project. In selecting your architect and contractor you must sort through the green washing that has become very prevalent in the construction industry. Your architect should have a proven understanding of building science as shown through past successful projects and appropriate certifications (Registered Architect, Construction Document Technologist, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, LEED Accredited Professional, and EarthCraft trained). Your contractor should have past experience building high performance homes, understand the team approach means all parties are involved through the entire project, and have an openness to innovative solutions. 

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A green home is one whose construction and lifetime operation assure the healthiest possible environment while representing the most efficient and least disruptive use of land, water, energy, and resources. Green building pays dividends to the home owner through lower monthly utility bills, healthy indoor air quality, low maintenance, and knowledge that you are having the minimal negative impact on future generations’ ability to achieve the same.


Green Terms Defined: Green Building (Part 1)

There are many definitions of what green building is or does. Definitions range from a building that is “less bad” than the average building in terms of its impact on the environment to a building that is  “high performance.” My definition is a home / building that meets the budget, is adaptable, durable, preserves or restores habitat, reduces energy and water use, and provides healthy indoor air quality.


It is critical to make the decision to “go green” early in the construction process. The first step is to create a team that understands building science, works well together, and are experts at green design and construction. A balanced team for home design includes an architect, contractor, and a client.  All parties have to work together to design and build the project in order to achieve the best solution. Eliminating any team member from any part of the process will result in a building that is not as green as possible.


Spend where it makes the most difference – Design Matters

Building a home is a major investment of time, energy, emotions, and money. You have to make some hard decisions and put value vs cost to the test. One of the most expensive rooms in a home is the kitchen. You have to get it right to make it efficient, functional, and beautiful. There are so many decisions to make in this one area of the home that you can spend many hours dwelling on which options are required and which can be given up. The kitchen is almost always seen as the social center of the home from after school homework to the dinner parties. Having an understanding of how to put the pieces together is not something that you simply stumble upon through building. There is an art to the pieces and it is hard to quantify until you have worked in a well proportioned kitchen that has been designed. The finishes of the cabinets, their placement, and there sizes all play into the functionality of the space. The countertop surface not only provides an aesthetic statement, but also could be the source of major headaches in the long run if the wrong option is selected. The hardware, door closers, lighting, appliances, and flooring options are endless and all have a real impact on the durability and functionality of the space. It is worth the time to hire someone who has gone through the process with others to help you make decisions. While most cabinet suppliers offer an in-house design service, I tend to not want them to do the design (they may carry a bias as they make money on the choices you make). Look for a CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) interior designer that not only understands kitchen design, but also can help you make a functional kitchen that lasts a lifetime.

kitchen renovation

Crossroads Farm Green Home

Green Building is not expensive, it is not unusual, and it should not be considered a unique approach. Green Building should be done by all builders, demanded by all clients, standard for all neighborhoods. It is though unfortunately not the typical in Harrisonburg. It is taking hold, it is growing stronger, and you can now see it being built, but for every green home, there are many others that are not focused on energy efficiency, durability, and health.

In Crossroads Farm, we have a home under construction. The builder came to the project already familiar with ‘green’ building so change was not needed. It was refreshing to have a team that was already on the same page. My client wanted to work with us because we understand energy-efficient, durable, healthy design and a selected builder that can deliver it.

Harrisonburg green hom

We designed this high performance home for a client that has been a friend for several years. It has been a fun project to work on and now that it is taking shape, fun to see the results of all our design work. This is not the first green home I have designed, after all, I have been doing this since getting out of graduate school in 2003. However, this is the first green home I have done in Harrisonburg and with this builder. Some of the things that are standards in other markets are brand new here. They are tested and I know they work, but being new here, there is always discussion. So working with the builder already familiar with green building has been great, I have learned some new things and I think he has learned some new things. The project is well on its way to being one of the most efficient homes in Crossroads Farm. It will not stand out as different when it is done. In fact, it is designed to work with the site as much as possible and blend into the vegetated background, so literally will not stand out on the site. The home owners will see the difference in their electric bills, in the durability of the home, and in the indoor air quality. Visitors probably will not notice, but the clean air inside the home will revive them and give them energy. It will reduce allergy season for my clients. It will be an oasis for them to rest and relax. Green Building is not only about conservation, it is about healthy design. Working with a contractor that understands that there are ‘other’ ways of doing things makes this possible.

Crossroads Farm

So let me know what you think about our work. If you want a tour of the home, just let me know, I am certainly proud of what we are creating. If you have questions about ‘green’ construction, feel free to send me your questions.