Products: Creating a Green Footprint

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorWith the growing concern about the effects of global warming, developers, architects and designers are focusing on energy consumption to reduce the carbon footprints of for-rent and for-sale multi-housing projects.”Anything we can do to make our properties more environmentally friendly in design and maintenance resonates and is of interest to a segment of the market,” says Mike Everly, president of Novare Management, a subsidiary of Novare Group that provides property management services. While the initial cost of green products may be higher than their non-sustainable counterparts, developers, architects and builders often end up paying less in the end. Environmentally conscious property owners who do not operate fully LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified properties can use such eco-friendly products as low-flow showerheads, toilets that use less water with each flush, and more energy-efficient light bulbs. “People value the ongoing savings of lower energy bills,” says Everly. Many products feature renewable resources, such as sustainably harvested wood, or eco-friendly, nontoxic materials, that can be found in certain paints and finishes. These options are equivalent to the traditional items in terms of structure and durability. Using recycled materials, however, results in less energy output than construction of an item from new materials.Products employing energy-efficient technology significantly cut down on property energy costs. More efficient HVAC systems and compact fluorescent lighting, which uses 75 percent less energy and lasts up to 10 times longer than conventional lighting, are just some ways to decrease energy consumption. With Energy Star products, households and businesses saved more than $16 billion on utility bills last year. These savings are expected to double in the next 10 years.Novare will soon begin integrating a number of new technologies into its buildings. These eco-friendly advances include an Internet Protocol (IP) thermostat and an auto vehicle identification with a sensor that recognizes when a resident exits and enters the property and adjusts the thermostat accordingly. Both measures can help to increase energy efficiency by allowing residents to control their thermostats when they are away from home. Other technologies will allow residents to easily track their energy consumption, thus making environmental awareness effortless.Striving to meet residents’ demands for more sustainable multi-housing properties, the industry is faced with a new challenge: differentiating between products that are truly eco-friendly and those that simply claim to be better for the environment. The rise of “greenwashing,” promoting a product as greener than it actually is, has led to increased wariness when purchasing sustainable products. The solution is to shop carefully and delve deeply into vendors’ green claims by asking questions about product composition and manufacture. Product Picks… Energy Star-qualified Seagull Lighting Stockholm Chandelier [1] is both stylish and energy efficient. It is available in brushed nickel and espresso finishes and contains etched opal glass shades (www.seagulllighting.com)… Green lobby/clubhouse furniture from Metamorphous [2] uses FSC-certified wood and non-toxic, water-based glues, stains and sealers, making it compliant with indoor air quality standards. With the ForeverFrame Guarantee, the frame can be recovered, recycled and repurposed (www.metamorphousfurniture.com) …Available in 26 colorways, as well as custom colors, Glide and Slide (pictured) [3] are Carnegie’s Xorel textiles’ latest additions. The wall covering applications are free of PVC, plasticizers, heavy metals, ozone-depleting chemicals and topical finishes, meeting the requirements of Section 01350, California State Building Guidelines for Indoor Environmental and Air Quality (www.carnegiefabrics.com)…With its low-VOC and low-odor formula, Sherwin-Williams Duration Home Interior Latex Coating [4] has anti-microbial properties, which reduce mold and mildew, and its easy washability makes frequent repainting unnecessary. It is available in any sheen and any tint on the Sherwin-Williams palette (www.sherwin-williams.com)…Equipped with a motion sensor, Panasonic WhisperGreen Ventilation Fan with SmartAction [5] is 350-500 percent more energy efficient than the minimum Energy Star requirements. The sensor automatically activates when someone enters or exits the room (www.panasonic.com/ventfans).