From watering the grass in the front yard to replacing shingles on the roof, the modern home isn’t exactly resource-friendly. It takes a lot of products to keep a home in good condition. Unless you want to deal with deterioration, there are few routes available except to fix the hole in your roof, chipped paint on your walls and floors that are wearing out. Fixing these defects often means going to the local hardware and home goods store and purchasing products that were likely built out of finite resources harvested from the earth.
However, the construction process is one of the few times that new homeowners can have a say on what’s going into their home and how it will affect the environment later on down the line. This aspect is of considerable interest to Todd Shupe, whose background in wood sciences has taught him plenty about the toxic preservatives that go into framing, porches, decks and more. That’s because Todd Shupe, who earned his Ph.D. degree in wood science from LSU, has been actively studying the environmental impacts of preservative-treated wood that ends up in landfills. In this article, Todd Shupe would like to offer a handful of ways that modern consumers can carry out ethical building practices and ensure that they are building the most “green” home possible.
- Reduce, then re-use: Reclaimed lumber is one of the best ways to reduce your impact when it comes to cutting down trees, treating them with chemicals to increase longevity then hauling them to the trash heap one day. Construction experts and Todd Shupe, a former LSU professor and lab director, both say that “reclaimed” wood from demolished buildings is a great way to give a second life to this mass-produced construction material.
- Keeping warm: The typical insulation that’s packed into the walls of a home is made primarily of fiberglass and can cause respiratory problems if you’re handling it too rough. Eco-friendly construction proponents like Todd Shupe say that there are alternatives on the market that will still help you keep warm in the winter. They include wool, bio-based spray foam and repurposed plastics, newspapers and even blue jeans!
- Washed away: The common asphalt-based shingles that are used in the U.S. also contain oils that are washed away over time. Those oils are hardly environmentally-friendly, so it’s important to find a way to protect what’s in your home while employing a renewable resource. Some alternatives to the standard shingle are recycled metal, slate or clay tiles or a “green” roof.