"A quick guide to a green bathroom design"
by Christine S. Suzuki, ASID, LEED AP
With a little guidance and knowledge, you can make the right choices when it comes to selecting sustainable materials and fixtures for your bathroom remodel. The choices and decisions that you make can vastly improve the air quality of your home while advocating the sustainability of our shared environment. The following are questions you should ask when selecting products and materials for your bathroom.
Is the product energy efficient?
Saving water in toilet flushes is the easiest and most productive way of saving water and costs. Look for EPA WaterSense label on all plumbing products to verify efficiency. If you are adding a washer and dryer,look for the EnergyStar rating for appliances. Also note, many local utilities give cash rebates for purchasing energy efficient products.
Is the product made with recycled materials?
There are many new products (particularly counter materials) that have a portion of their content from recycled materials. Ask for their manufacturers' specification data sheet (MSD) to verify the content. All LEED* certified green products must show documentation on the content of the products, so MSDs are readily available from manufacturers.
Is the product made locally?
Lots of good points for this one, local products cut down on the carbon footprint to your bathroom.
Is the product made of sustainable materials?
For some certifications, the magic number for harvesting 'rapidly renewable' plants is 10 years. If you are looking at wood products, ask for FSC certified wood to ensure that it has been harvested responsibly. Using sustainable materials keeps our world healthy.
Health for the environment does NOT always positively correspond with the health of people. For instance, you may select bathroom cabinets that feature bamboo doors. Bamboo is an extremely sustainable material; however, most cabinets have box structures that are made with particle board that contains formaldehyde.Cabinets can "off-gas" formaldehyde for up to five years. Formaldehyde can cause nausea and difficulty breathing, and has been shown to cause cancer in animals and possibly humans. Ask for a cabinet box that is made with materials that have zero formaldehyde such as "formaldehyde free plywood".
Electric radiant heated floor is both healthy and energy efficient.
Though of as primarily a luxury feature, replacing your forced air heat vent with heated floors significantly reduces the amount of allergens and toxins that are pushed through your heating system. Programmable thermostats allow you to set the time and temperature to go on and off reducing heating costs. (check out our promotional offers on NuHeat floor warming installations) click here
Tired of waiting for your hot water? A re-circulating pump keeps your hot water next to your fixtures, saving time, energy and money getting hot water from your hot water tank. Timers can be set on the pumps to maximize the efficiency by turning on the feature only when you most need it.
Finally, back to your health, demand that the paint used in your bathroom contain little or zero VOC's. (Volatile Organic Compounds) Request the Green Seal Standard for low VOC paints.
Consult a professional - Who can guide you through this sea of information and statistic? Professional bath designers can help you select products that are safe and healthy for you, your loved ones and our shared world.
Christine S. Suzuki, ASID, LEED AP, "Designer Baths" sept'10 (p. 6-9)
"SUSTAINABLE INTERIORS DON'T LOOK DIFFERENT, THE JUST LIVE DIFFERENTLY."