Building or renovating? These products will give your home an eco-upgrade.

By Allen B. Bunting
January 22, 2008
Courtesy of FLOR

Recycled Carpet and Flooring 
• Billions of pounds of carpet end up in landfills each year, but several carpet companies strive to limit this impact by creating new products from recycled carpet fibers. FLOR, a company that specializes in residential carpet tiles, has instituted an R&R (return and recycle) Program. Homeowners can arrange to have old tiles picked up and shipped back to the plant for recycling.

• Carpet giant Shaw Industries, Inc. has made advancements through its Shaw Green Edge initiative and its products. Those include carpet cushions certified by The Carpet and Rug Institute Green Label air-quality testing and labeling program, both recycled and recyclable carpet and carpet tiles, and sustainably harvested hardwoods.

• Mohawk offers options that include laminate flooring made of 75 percent pre-consumer recycled content, and everSTRAND carpet made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. The company also sells designer doormats made from recycled tires.

• If carpet's not your style, don't forget that wood floors can be recycled, too. Reclaimed wood flooring adds character and an aged look to interiors that new materials can't match. Old Grain, a company specializing in reclaimed wood, assists contractors and homeowners in selection and installation.

FLOR; Shaw Industries; Mohawk; Old Grain;

Recycled-content Countertops
• Cradle to Cradle Silver-certified IceStone uses post-consumer recycled glass to create glass-and-concrete surfaces in a variety of colors at prices comparable to high-quality granite.

• Renewed Materials LLC produces a modern eco-friendly look with Alkemi, made from 60 percent post-industrial scrap aluminum. This creates countertops that function like solid surfaces but look like art.

• For a natural-looking option that won't off-gas, look to Richlite. The company specializes in high-quality paper-composite surfaces that are stain- and heat-resistant.

IceStone; Renewed Materials LLC; Richlite;

Low-VOC Paints and Finishes
• Many paints contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), potentially harmful air pollutants. Limit your exposure with low-VOC options, such as the Ayurveda Essence collection by AFM Safecoat.

• Sherwin-Williams' Harmony primers and flat, eggshell, and semigloss paints claim to be no-VOC, low-odor, and mildew-resistant, which is vital in coastal climates.

• Glossy finishes generally contain higher VOC levels. If your project requires a high-gloss paint, consider American Pride Interior Waterborne High-Gloss Enamel.

• Low-VOC alternatives are also available for exterior jobs. Check out Opera Paints Silicon Quarzo or American Pride Exterior Low Lustre.

AFM; Sherwin-Williams; Opera Paints; American Pride;