Green Lights

A look at environmentally friendly products for your residential design projects.

On the issue of sustainability, the prevailing thought in the preservation community is that "green" buildings are determined by design first and products second. To be responsible denizens, we must utilize time-tested design principles that promote longevity and durability, and thus use fewer resources in the long term. Yet when it comes to the specifics – to choosing between product A and product B – there are often marked differences. Going forward, this section will be devoted to architects' and designers' experiences with a variety of green products. We hope you will find it informative.

Energy efficiency begins with proper insulation, for which there are a number of effective, eco-friendly solutions. In the March 2011 issue of Period Homes, Eric Corey Freed of San Francisco, CA-based organicARCHITECT illustrated the benefits of Spider fiberglass from Johns Manville; recycled-newspaper material from both NuWool and GreenFiber; a soy-based foam from BioBased; and the UltraTouch Denim Insulation from Bonded Logic.

Mt. Kisco, NY-based, Palladio Award-winning architect Ira Grandberg is also impressed with the UltraTouch Denim Insulation. "We recently completed a sizable project using this material," he says. "It is easy to work with and 100 percent recycled denim. It is fire rated, resists mold and mildew, has nor formaldehyde and gives a maximum R-value."

For a French Manor home (Period Homes, March 2012) in Winnetka, IL, Melichar Architects used M100 Drywall Joint Compound from Ft. Worth, TX-based Murco that is hypo-allergenic and asbestos and formaldehyde free. "The contractors said it was a little difficult to work with at first – because they hadn't used it before," says firm architect Jennifer VanHeirseele. "But it was a good quality product and created a nice smooth surface. It is now a standard item in our spec book."

VanHeirseele also notes that when it comes to paint, Melichar specs low-VOC or no-VOC varieties for interior surfaces, typically using products from Benjamin Moore.

Of course, reclaimed and recycled materials – such as flooring, beams, pavers and roofing tile – will always be the ultimate green products. For an in-depth look at reclaimed flooring, see this month's product report.

This loose-fill cellulose insulation is made from recycled newspapers by Charlotte, NC-based GreenFiber.
UltraTouch Denim Insulation is made of recycled cotton by Bonded Logic of Chandler, AZ. Spray polyurethane foam from BioBased of San Diego, CA, integrates soy as a replacement for a portion of the petroleum traditionally used in the product.
Reclaimed antique granite cobblestone from Monarch Stone International of San Clemente, CA, was used on this estate in Upstate New York. This durable, old-growth maple flooring was supplied by Riverhead, NY-based Heritage Wide Plank Flooring.
The 200-year-old, hand-hewn beams seen here were supplied by Sylvan Brandt of Lititz, PA. The WolfPack multi-parameter indoor air-quality monitor from Shelton, CT-based GrayWolf can help promote energy savings and a healthy environment for building occupants. Photo: courtesy of GrayWolf
Eco-Choice windows from Grabill Windows & Doors of Grabill, IN, meet LEED rating criteria. This graduated Vermont roofing slate from Greenville, DE-based Reclaimed Roofs was salvaged from a university building and re-installed on this residence in Connecticut.

More Green Info

This recycled countertop was supplied by Richmond, CA-based Vetrazzo.

For more from the suppliers mentioned in this article:

Benjamin Moore


Bonded Logic

Grabill Windows & Doors



Heritage Wide Plank Flooring

Johns Manville

Monarch Stone International



Reclaimed Roofs

Sylvan Brandt