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New strategies, materials make it easier to be green.

Recycled glass countertop by Vetrazzo.Millions of people are making the switch to a greener lifestyle. From replacing plastic grocery bags with canvas totes to designing homes with environmentally friendly materials, consumers are completely aware of the benefits of going green inside and outside the home.

A GREEN INTERIOR — FROM ROOM TO ROOM

Making the switch to a greener home lifestyle can be as easy as throwing out old toxic cleaners or replacing regular light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.

But if you’re looking to remodel major aspects of the home, think about using recycled materials throughout every room starting with the kitchen.

Vetrazzo produces modern, sleek countertops made with a combination of 85 percent recycled glass, cement-additive pigments, and other recycled materials. It’s as smooth as granite, and just as strong and durable, with a more artsy feel. Visit vetrazzo.com for products and more information. Not only is replacing countertops with this material environmentally friendly, but it instantly adds value to your home. Don’t forget the little details in each room! Replace existing hardware with hardware that is made from various recycled materials. Backsplashes made from recycled glass tile are aesthetically appealing, durable and create easier clean up in the kitchen. Recycled glass tile can be used in many areas of the home from the kitchen to the bathroom. It has great appeal for kitchen back-splashes or tiles in the bathroom, and has low toxicity levels. The tiles can be stamped, textured and designed to coordinate with your existing décor. Bedrock Industries produces 100 percent recycled glass made without the use of pigment. Not only are these products environmentally friendly, but they use recycled shipping materials too. Check out bedrockindustries.com for product listings.

When remodeling the kitchen, replace kitchen cabinets with cabinets made from recycled materials. But don’t throw old cabinets away, where they could end up sitting in a landfill. Think green. Drop off old cabinets at Habitat for Humanity stores or find out if there is a local company offering to recycle your old cabinets. Other options for cabinetry include using recycled or reclaimed items that can last 50 years or more.

Bamboo, an environmentally friendly and aesthetically appealing material, is in huge demand among homeowners looking to create a greener home. AlterECO produces sleek bamboo cabinetry that can be installed in both kitchens and baths. As a highly sustainable material, bamboo is not only great for the environment but makes it a healthier one too. Visit bamboocabinets.com for more product information.

COOL, MODERN AND GREEN LIGHTING — CHANGE FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE

The UFO pendant made from recycled cast aluminum, by Eleek.Switching over the interior lighting of your home with energy efficient light bulbs is ideal, but take it one step further by installing modern elegant lighting that’s made from recycled materials.

You can turn just about anything in your home green. Replacing an old sink or light fixture with recycled materials is easy as long as you know the right manufacturer. Eleek, a company that produces everything from kitchen sinks to detailed hardware, creates cool modern and green lighting. Visit eleekinc.com. The UFO pendant made from recycled cast aluminum is great for brightening up your kitchen. The “teahouse” chandelier, made from 100 percent recycled cast aluminum and laser cut aluminum, is made with five teahouse pendants creating a modern Asian appeal. Replacing old light fixtures can instantly update your home without hurting your wallet.

WINDOWS OF THE WORLD

With a great demand for environmentally friendly building, every aspect is being taken into consideration. Saving energy and cutting costs are a top priority among homeowners. Installing energy-efficient windows reduces energy bills by hundreds of dollars per year and saves thousands over a lifetime. Vinyl windows, produced by companies like Simonton Windows, are durable, require little to no maintenance, and will last year after year. Unlike wood windows, there is no worry of rotting, mold or mildew. Vinyl windows stand up to extreme weather conditions and add value to the home. For more information on window products, visit simonton.com.

BENEATH YOUR FEET — FLOORING FOR EVERYONE

Porcelain Stone tiles by Crossville are made from 40 percent recycled materials, and come in a variety of colors, styles and textures. Available in tons of colors and textures, porcelain stone tile can be custom made to complement the existing style of your home. Check out crossvilleinc.com for more information.

Bamboo flooring is a growing trend due to its sustainability and durability. Bamboo, which is a grass not a wood, regenerates on its own without being replanted and requires minimal fertilization or pesticides. Many homeowners who are building a green home choose to use bamboo or cork instead of carpet.

Bamboo flooringCarpet can release toxic fumes into the air due to the chemical treatments it goes through when being processed. Carpets are inviting for dust mites and other allergens that can cause asthma, especially in children. When replacing old carpet with new environmentally friendly flooring, keep in mind that it can be recycled as well. Old carpet can be recycled into new carpet or even plastic products for automobile interiors. While most carpet has a lifetime of about 10 years, cork or bamboo flooring can last a lifetime.

Bamboo flooring is a renewable material that is available in a variety of colors and can update your home and add value to the home. With its durability, many homeowners are choosing bamboo which also helps to increase the value of a home. Teragren, a manufacturer of bamboo products including flooring, cabinetry and butcher blocks, uses bamboo that has been harvested at its durability peak of 5 ½ to 6 years, making the product more durable than many wood floors. Teragren’s bamboo flooring uses two coats of poly-urethane to prevent scratches, unlike some dense wood flooring, and it comes in a variety of hues, including espresso, cherry, walnut, and charcoal. Visit teragren.com for more information.

Consider replacing some of your old, worn out floor mats with natural fiber floor mats. There is an increasing popularity in natural mats made from sisal, jute and coir. Most of these materials are not chemically treated or contain backing.

Cork flooring can create a warm look and is a good option because it’s durable, comfortable and anti-microbial. Linoleum flooring is a staple in many kitchens and bathrooms due to its durability and functionality, but it’s not exactly eco-friendly. A green alternative is Marmoleum Natural Linoleum made with natural materials like linseed oil, wood flour, rosin, jute and limestone. It’s available in an abundance of colors. Plus, no harmful VOCs are emitted into the air. Choosing only a few of these green remodeling ideas can improve your indoor air quality, increase the value of your home and cut down on utility bills. You’re also doing your part by conserving natural resources every time you use a green product.

UP ON THE ROOF — GREEN ROOF THAT IS

Homebuilders are complying with the popular request for green homes or remodeling existing homes. In fact, entire communities are popping up everywhere with nothing but energy-efficient green homes. With the demand increasing every year, builders and manufacturers are coming up with new products and building materials that are energy and cost efficient.

Met-Tile produces “tile panel” metal shingles which resist rain, wind, rot, termites and fire.Re-New Wood produces the “eco-shake,” a roofing material consisting of 100 percent recycled materials, reinforced vinyl and cellulose fiber. This environmentally friendly product is a great replacement for wood shake shingles. With its durability, resistance to harsh weather conditions, and natural appeal, providing a roof over your head is no longer a hassle. It comes with a 50-year guarantee and is available in warm natural colors such as teak, umber and charcoal. Visit renewood.com for more information.

Another trend seen on the market is metal roofing. With its durability and attractiveness, metal roofing is replacing many existing older asphalt roofs. Taylor Metal produces metal recycled roofing. When a home is torn down metal roofing can be recycled, where many asphalt roofs end up in landfills year after year. It works well under harsh weather conditions and is resistant to mold and mildew. Met-Tile produces “tile panel” metal shingles and promises to resist rain, wind, rot, termites and fire. For more information, check out met-tile.com

THE RUN DOWN ON GREEN

Building an eco-friendly green home is for homeowners who care about the future of the environment for the present and future generations. A green home is environmentally friendly, energy efficient, and provides a healthy space for families. Homeowners are looking for homes that will cut down on energy costs while helping to conserve energy at the same time. Building a green home can cut energy costs by up to 50 percent making it impossible to deny its benefits.

Overall, green homes and commercial buildings promise to cut down on energy costs, require less maintenance and repair, and provide a healthier environment compared to other homes.

Turning an existing home into a green home can take time and money, but in the long run you’re helping the environment and creating a healthier home for your family.