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Build It Green Fact Sheets

Green Building PDF Icon Sustainable Water and Energy Practices (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

The single largest threat to society is the lack of access to quality water, which can lead to disease, death, famine, and severely damaging environmental impacts. This paper takes a look at issues facing California's water supply, explains the energy involved in water processing, and provides sustainable water solutions for the future.

Advanced framing, or Optimal Value Engineering (OVE), is a systems approach to the design, engineering, and construction of wood-framed structures that reduces lumber use, minimizes wood waste, and maximizes a structure's thermal efficiency. View this fact sheet for details on how to implement various strategies.

Green Building PDF Icon Air Filters (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

An air filter is an important part of a heating and cooling system. A clean filter intercepts particles such as dust and fibers that build up on the blower fan and the heating and cooling coils. Such particle buildup reduces performance, restricts airflow through the system, and shortens operating life. Secondarily, high-quality filters can improve a home's indoor air quality.

This fact sheet discusses: green benefits, how to choose a filter, filter types, installation, maintenance, and cites further resources.

Green Building PDF Icon Bamboo Flooring (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource that can be used to produce a very durable hard surface for flooring. Products can be constructed with solid bamboo of one or more plies or with a single layer of bamboo that is cross-laminated on top of wood.

This fact sheet discusses: environmental considerations such as energy, water, resource, and health impacts; practical considerations such as cost, specification, and maintenance info; and applicability to various Green Building Guidelines and Rating Systems.

Green Building PDF Icon Carpet (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Carpet is the most common floor covering in homes today due to low cost, comfort, and availability of multiple colors and patterns. Carpet is made from woven materials, often petroleum-based fibers like nylon or olefin, attached to a synthetic backing with an adhesive. Each of these components has associated environmental implications from resource conservation and indoor air quality. "Green" carpet includes natural fibers such as wool, jute, sisal, sea grass, coir or recycled PET (polyester) plastic.

Green Building PDF Icon Choosing a Green Building Professional (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Hiring a green building professional is similar to hiring any other building professional in that you want a reputable person with a history of providing a quality product on time and within budget. This document outlines key concepts and criteria to help you take the extra steps in choosing the right green building professional for the job.

Green Building PDF Icon Combination Water and Space Heating Systems (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Combination water and space heating systems use a high efficiency water heater or central boiler to supply heating energy to the space heating system while still meeting the needs for domestic hot water. The space-heating component can be accomplished with either a forced air system or a radiant heat system. A forced air system can either use hot water piped to individual fan coil units in each unit or the hot water can be sent to a central heat exchanger and fan coil unit that then sends hot air to the individual units. Read on to learn more.

Green Building PDF Icon Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

C&D waste diversion implements the three R's of reduce, reuse, recycle through all phases of a project. By implementing a successful C&D waster diversion plan, we can divert valuable materials from the landfill and elevate the need for virgin products.

This fact sheet discusses: environmental considerations such as energy, water, resource, and health impacts; practical considerations such as cost, specification, and maintenance info; and applicability to various Green Building Guidelines and Rating Systems.

Green Building PDF Icon Cork Flooring (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Cork is the outer bark of the cork oak tree and is typically harvested every nine years from the Mediterranean region. It is a natural, renewable product that can be used anywhere a resilient floor is needed. Cork generally comes in tiles, planks, or sheets of various sizes, is extremely durable, provides acoustical and thermal insulation, cushions underfoot, is resistant to moisture damage and decay, and is easy to clean and maintain.

Green Building PDF Icon Cotton Insulation (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Cotton insulation comes in batts that are comparable to fiberglass in ease of installation, fire resistance, and energy efficiency. However, it has better sound dampening qualities and avoids some of the potential health problems of fiberglass.

Green Building PDF Icon Countertops (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)
Many people consider the kitchen to be the heart of a home, the place where nourishing food is prepared and guests tend to gather; and perhaps countertops are then the heart of a kitchen. Between preparing food and drinks, cutting bread, and using the surface as a trivet, dish dryer or eating place, topped off by aggressive scrubbing, countertops take a lot of abuse and require high durability in the average kitchen. With myriad options and so many performance demands, how does one choose the greenest surface? Read this fact sheet to help you make the best decision.
Green Building PDF Icon Day Lighting for Homes (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

By reducing the need for electric light, daylighting can substantially lower home energy use. However, excessive daylighting can increase both heating and cooling loads. A balanced approach to daylighting involves whole building design starting with the location and orientation of a home and continuing with proper room location and design, window sizing and placement, and selection of room finishes.

Green Building PDF Icon Durability and Maintenance (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

This fact sheet provides building owners, designers, and builders of affordable, multifamily housing with criteria for evaluating the durability of building materials and systems. It examines the categories of criteria for evaluating durability and its relationship with maintenance issues. It then sets out criteria for evaluating the durability of material systems for a given project. Durability is dependent on building type, design, use, installation, and maintenance.

Green Building PDF Icon Energy Efficient Appliances (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Appliances such as refrigerators have more then doubled their efficiency in the last ten years. To help consumers choose energy efficient appliances, the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have partnered with appliance manufacturers to steadily increase the federal minimum energy efficiency standards and promote more energy efficient appliances through their Energy Star® Program.

Green Building PDF Icon Fiberglass Insulation (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Fiberglass insulation is composed of commonly found minerals-primarily silica-that are spun from a molten state into fibers. From an environmental perspective, there are some significant drawbacks to fiberglass. However, some manufacturers have made noteworthy strides to address some of the problems. "Green" fiberglass insulations are made with recycled content materials and may have better indoor air quality properties than conventional fiberglass. 

Green Building PDF Icon Financing Photovoltaic Systems for Multifamily Housing (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

This fact sheet provides information for affordable multifamily housing providers interested in adding photovoltaic (PV) panels to their properties.

Green Building PDF Icon Flooring (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

General overview of the various options available for flooring and their related benefits and drawbacks. 

Green Building PDF Icon Fly Ash Concrete (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Fly ash is a waste product that can be substituted for large portions of Portland cement, significantly improving concrete's environmental characteristics. Fly ash, consisting mostly of silica, alumina, and iron, forms a compound similar to Portland cement when mixed with lime and water. Fly ash is a noncombusted by-product of coal-fired power plants and generally ends up in a landfill. However, when high volumes are used in concrete (displacing more than 25% of the cement), it creates a stronger, more durable product and reduces concrete's environmental impact considerably.

Green Building PDF Icon FSC Certified Wood (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has established standards in sustainable forest management and created a mechanism, third party certification, that ensures that they are followed. In addition to addressing its environmental impact, the FSC considers the impact of logging on local communities and indigenous peoples and supports their interests.

Green Building PDF Icon Graywater use for Irrigation (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Graywater is defined as untreated household wastewater, which has not come into contact with toilet waste. This includes water from bathtubs, showers, bathroom wash basins, clothes washing machines and laundry tubs. It does not include wastewater from kitchen sinks, dishwashers, or laundry water from soiled diapers.

This fact sheet discusses, green building benefits, permitting requirements, design and cost considerations, operations and maintenance, and cites further resources.

Green Building PDF Icon Green Building Ideas (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)
Green buildings are healthy for their occupants and the environment. They are also economical buildings, boasting reduced energy, water, and maintenance costs. There are hundreds of green building techniques and products one can integrate into a home. This fact sheet outlines some basic concepts and ideas important to creating a green home.
Green Building PDF Icon Green Living and Housekeeping (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Proactive, consistent and healthy maintenance practices can make the difference between a healthy environment and a building with significant indoor air quality (IAQ) and environmental problems. Strategic maintenance can also reduce operating costs and increase the longevity of buildings and equipment. This fact sheet discusses strategies and techniques that anybody can implement toward healthy, green living.

Green Building PDF Icon HDPE Piping (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

HDPE pipe is a primary alternative to PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe for all piping applications. Unlike PVC, HDPE piping does not contain know contaminants such as chlorine and dioxins, it also has a much higher recycling rate.

This fact sheet discusses: environmental considerations such as energy, water, resource, and health impacts; practical considerations such as cost, specification, and maintenance info; and applicability to various Green Building Guidelines and Rating Systems

Green Building PDF Icon HVAC (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems should provide comfort as efficiently as possible. Equipment sizing, system design and installation will all determine the overall efficiency and performance of an HVAC system, and how well the system is maintained will determine how quickly that efficiency degrades. 

Green Building PDF Icon Indoor Air Quality (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

The health of the built environment and those who occupy it is a very important emphasis of green building. The key to optimizing indoor air quality (IAQ) is to identify the sources of potential contaminants and to then take the appropriate steps to minimize their impact. This fact sheet names common contaminants, their source, and options for keeping them out of your house.

Green Building PDF Icon Insulation and Air Sealing (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Insulation and a tight exterior seal are two of the most important components of a home's protection against outside conditions, often called its "thermal envelope". This envelope consists of all six sides of the home, the four walls, roof, and foundation. All envelope components interact as a system to affect the flow of heat, air, moisture, and sound into or out of a home. The better the thermal envelope performs, the better the health and comfort of occupants and the lower their utility and maintenance bills. 

Green Building PDF Icon Lighting (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Energy-efficient lighting design focuses on methods and materials that improve the quality as well as the efficiency of lighting. Daylight is the most energy-efficient means of illuminating a building and thus should be a primary focus. Electrical lighting, still provided primarily by traditional incandescent bulbs, consumes almost 15 percent of household electricity on average. Using readily available alternative lighting technologies can reduce lighting energy use by 50 to 75 percent.

Green Building PDF Icon Natural Linoleum Flooring (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Natural linoleum is a durable resilient flooring product made from linseed oil (pressed from the flax plant), pine resin, wood flour, cork powder, limestone dust, natural pigments, and jute. Natural linoleum can be used anywhere a resilient floor is needed, as well as for countertop and desktop applications. Natural linoleum is available in tiles and sheets.

Green Building PDF Icon Paint (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Conventional paint contains a multitude of harmful chemicals that off-gas into the air, negatively affecting the health of people and the planet. These paints release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are a class of carbon-based chemicals that have the capacity to evaporate readily at room temperature. Fortunately, you can easily avoid generating pollution and unsafe living spaces and still have beautiful walls of any color by using low-VOC, zero-VOC, recycled, or natural paints. 

Green Building PDF Icon Passive Solar Design, Part 1 (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Passive solar design is the process of creating a home that provides both shelter and comfort year-round while responding to regional climate conditions and minimizing dependence on energy-consuming mechanical systems. The goal is to build and occupy a home that a) utilizes solar heat gain in the winter to warm the interior of a home, b) controls solar heat gain in the summer, and c) facilitates daylighting, natural ventilation, and nighttime cooling to keep a home comfortably cool in the summer.

Green Building PDF Icon Passive Solar Design, Part 2 (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)
Moving on from Passive Solar Design, Part 1, the interior of the home, surfaces and building materials must be carefully chosen and strategically placed to perform as absorbers and thermal mass storage of solar heat gain in winter and convective cooling breezes in summer. In addition, window coverings for preventing heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer are recommended. Finally, fans and controls for air distribution from one room to another can provide supplemental heating and cooling to the entire home.
Green Building PDF Icon Permeable Paving (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Also called porous or pervious pavement, permeable pavement falls into three main categories, conventional asphalt or concrete with the fine materials left out of the mix, grids that are filled with aggregate and planted with vegetation, and unit paving blocks that are spaced apart. Each of these options reduces run-off by allowing water to percolate through the surface. When incorporated into a proper site design, these systems can promote the recharge of local aquifers, reduce run-off pollutants, and reduce or eliminate the need for curb gutters and storm sewers.

Green Building PDF Icon Pressure Treated Wood (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Pressure treated wood is used in applications where decay and insect damage are a concern such as playground equipment, decks, building foundations, landscape ties, retaining walls, and fence posts. Wood was traditionally treated with copper chromated arsenate (CCA) until it came restricted by the EPA. Currently more environmentally friendly treatments are widely used.

Green Building PDF Icon Radiant Barriers (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

A radiant barrier system (RBS) is comprised of a sheet of reflective foil placed next to an air space, the combination of which discourages radiant heat transfer. In a hot climate, an RBS properly installed beneath a roof blocks up to 95% of the heat transfer from the roof to the attic insulation, resulting in a cooler living space and less cooling load. 

Green Building PDF Icon Rainwater Harvesting (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Rainwater harvesting is a viable water conservation concept. Simple systems are inexpensive and easy to maintain. Larger systems greatly reduce potable water consumption and can become a backup supply for fire suppression and earthquake preparedness. If we harvest rainwater for nonpotable uses (landscape, toilet flushing, etc.), we reduce demand on our potable water supplier, and reduce our monthly water bill as well. 

Green Building PDF Icon Recycled Content Ceramic Tile (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Ceramic tile is a beautiful, inert material used as a durable finish for floors, countertops, and walls. While somewhat energy intensive to produce, the environmental impacts are offset by ceramic tile's longevity. Recycled-content ceramic tile provides additional environmental benefits; in addition to using up to 100% waste glass, they are often more durable and moisture and stain resistant than their non-recycled counterparts. 

Green Building PDF Icon Recycled Plastic and Composite Lumber (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Both recycled plastic lumber and recycled wood/ plastic composite lumber are molded or continuously extruded into standard lumber forms. 100% plastic lumber is usually made with 100% recovered plastics such as HDPE, LDPE, PET, or a mixture of various recovered plastics. Wood/ plastic composite lumber is made from a 50/50 mix of plastic resins (typically trash bags) and reclaimed wood. Plastic lumber is commonly available in three grades: hollow, solid, and structural solid.

Green Building PDF Icon Residential Commissioning (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Residential commissioning is a comprehensive evaluation of a home to ensure the effective performance of the building and its systems. Commissioning combines component and system testing with improvements in home performance, energy efficiency, and comfort. Commissioning methods can be used to diagnose home performance for both new and existing homes, either single-family or multifamily. 

Green Building PDF Icon Residential Water Heating (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

The delivery of hot water comes at a high price, as gas water heating accounts for about 16 percent of the average California home utility bill, and electric water heating about 28 percent. Read this fact sheet to learn how different water heating options compare in cost, performance, and energy efficiency:

  • Storage/Tank-Type Water Heaters
  • Heat Pump Water Heaters
  • Tankless Water Heaters
  • Combination/Combo Space and Water Heating Systems
  • Solar Water Heating
Green Building PDF Icon Roofing Material for Flat Roofs (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

A concentrated effort to reduce energy consumption in buildings and their contribution to the "heat island effect"� has led to recent advances in the materials and systems for flat roofs (roofs with a slope from ¼ to 3 inches per foot), used primarily in commercial and multifamily construction. Selecting a roofing material that is highly reflective and emissive (cool roof) over one that is not, can reduce cooling loads by 20 percent or more, and help cool urban heat islands. 

Green Building PDF Icon Roofing Materials for Sloped Roofs (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)
In recent years, residential roofs made of metal and tiles have become quite popular, both for their aesthetics and their durability. But despite their new-found popularity, these are not new roofing materials. The use of metal as roofing material dates back more than 150 years, and concrete tiles have been in use for centuries. This fact sheet discusses the benefits and drawbacks of the most widely used roofing materials in the residential market (asphalt shingles, metal roofing, clay and concrete tiles).
Green Building PDF Icon Salvaged Materials (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Salvaged materials instill a sense of depth, character, and uniqueness to a project and can bring many environmental and economic benefits. The San Francisco Bay Area has an abundance of businesses that collect, sort, and, in some cases, refurbish a great variety of salvaged building materials and products, and they are an important component of regional waste diversion efforts.

Green Building PDF Icon Solar Water Heaters (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Solar water heaters, sometimes called solar domestic hot water systems, use the sun to heat either water or a heat-transfer fluid in collectors. A typical system will reduce the need for conventional energy source for water heating by about two-thirds. Solar water heaters are cost competitive in many applications when you account for the total energy costs over the life of the system.

Green Building PDF Icon Tankless Water Heaters (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Since tankless units heat water only as needed, they are also referred to as Demand, Instantaneous, or Flash heaters. While they've historically been popular in Japan and Europe, the market for tankless units in the United States is now heating up. People like tankless water heaters because they take up less space, generally last at least 20 years, and can truly provide endless hot water if they are specified properly. Read this fact sheet to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of tankless water heaters.

Green Building PDF Icon Termite Prevention (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

In the U.S., termites cause more monetary damage to homes than fires, storms, and earthquakes combined. Many termite infestations can be avoided in the first place: numerous low-cost, common-sense, chemical-free design and construction measures can physically hinder termites and other pests from entering a home in their search for wood and wood-based materials to eat. As a general rule, implement measures that eliminate excess moisture, available food, and physical termite pathways. Read this fact sheet for details.

Green Building PDF Icon Wall systems (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Today, wood framing is the most common construction method for residential and small scale commercial buildings. However, environmental concerns, and volatile fuel and lumber prices are driving the quest for high performance building envelope systems such as Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) and Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs). In addition, natural disasters throughout the U.S. and large payouts for insurance companies are motivating builders to consider more robust and durable building material.

Green Building PDF Icon Water Conservation Strategies (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

Conservation of potable water costs less and is more sustainable than treating non-potable water and delivering it to your tap. Plus, most water conservations strategies are relatively easy to accomplish. Most water utilities encourage customers to conserve water through public education and incentives for equipment upgrades. Water-efficient technologies and lifestyle modifications can work together to drastically reduce water use.

This fact sheet discusses: green building benefits, outdoor and indoor conservation strategies, and cites further resources.

Green Building PDF Icon Water Management (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)

The underlying principle of water management is to layer materials from roof to foundation in such a way that water is always directed downward and outward from the building. Good water management practices require good drainage details. The typical building envelope is subject to water entry in numerous locations. Keeping water out of a building envelope is the primary line of defense against mold and a necessary condition for durability. 

Green Building PDF Icon Windows (Build It Green fact sheet, .pdf)
Inefficient windows can account for 9% of all residential energy consumption. Energy performance in windows can be improved through multiple panes of glass, low conductivity gasses (Argon and Krypton) between panes to boost R-value, and low emissive (Low-E) coatings of tin and silver oxide to block radiant heat gain. Window frame materials such as wood, fiberglass, composites, vinyl, and metal, are also a consideration for conductivity and environmental impact.