Friday, 6 January 2012

Eco-Friendly Architecture: paints, flooring, green roofs, and more!

There has been a heavy shift towards green building design over the past decade due to a more environmentally-conscious mind state.  Take a look at what's new in retrofitting existing building structures, environmentally safe products, and green roofs!

Retrofitting Existing Building Structures:

Retrofitting existing buildings is an excellent way to optimize overall efficiency, whether it be in your existing home or commercial building.  The best approach to increasing energy efficiency will vary from building to building. For some buildings, a comprehensive retrofit project will produce the most energy efficient building system, possibly reducing energy consumption by 25-50%. In other buildings, technical and financial constraints may prevent a retrofit project and in these cases, it is often desirable to implement behavioural changes.  The following chart shows some factors that should be considered when planning a retrofitting project:

(Click for more info!)

Environmentally Safe Products:

The composition of materials used in a building plays a major factor in its impact on the environment. Whether new or renovated, existing government facilities must lead the way in the use of environmentally preferable products and processes that do not pollute or unnecessarily contribute to waste stream, do not adversely affect health, and do not deplete limited natural resources.

Here are at some eco-friendly materials for the foundation and construction of a home/commercial building and some for the interior of buildings as well.

Engineered Roof & Ceiling Frame Plan

Advanced framing techniques that use engineering principles to minimize material waste while meeting building code structural guidelines.

Engineered Flooring System

An engineered system that reduces warping, twisting, and shrinking that can lead to squeaky floors. These systems make efficient use of faster-growing trees from managed forests which help preserve old-growth forests for a sustainable future.

Finger Jointed Studs

Resource efficient construction materials that are as strong and stable as solid-sawn studs. This material is used throughout all the walls of our homes and engineered to deliver straighter stronger walls.  Here is a quick video on finger jointed studs… 

OSB Exterior Sheathing/Decking Oriented-strand board (OSB)

Made from small pieces of wood harvested from small, fast growing trees (usually from a tree farm) and have an average recycled content of anywhere from 66 to 75 percent.

Mgo Board Trim/Soffit

These innovative magnesium cement-based products are deemed to be CO2 (greenhouse gas) friendly by capturing emissions in the manufacturing process that are not released into the atmosphere. Mgo boards can be recycled upon demolition or even composted, returning valuable magnesium-based minerals to the soil. This superior, non-combustible material also resists rot resulting from humidity, rain, salt air and termites.

Eco Glass

Generally is comprised of 95% recycled glass and plastic, and can be used as a hard wearing surface for kitchen worktops. Eco glass worktops are available in a range of finishes to resemble marble, quartz or granite, and match conventional glass for practicality and style.

Eco Fabrics

Natural eco fabrics are the environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic cloth because they’re made from renewable plant fibres. The two most popular eco fabrics are cotton and jute (also called hessian), and other types include hemp, recycled polyester, organic leather, wool, felt and fair trade silks.

Eco Paints

Conventional lead based paint emits harmful chemicals into the air, such as pesticides, herbicides and toxins, which are referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOC).  Eco paints, on the other hand, contain fewer or no toxins at all, in which case they’re labelled as being VOC free. Eco paints are odourless and popular types are milk, plant, water or soy based, rather than lead.

Green Roofs:

There are two distinct types of green roofs: intensive and extensive.

Intensive green roofs are essentially elevated parks. They can sustain shrubs, trees, walkways and benches with their complex structural support, irrigation, drainage and root protection layers. The foot or more of growing medium needed for an intensive green roof creates a load of 80-150 pounds (36-68 kilograms) per square foot.

Extensive green roofs are relatively light at 15-50 pounds (7-23 kilograms) per square foot. They support native ground cover that requires little maintenance. Extensive green roofs usually exist for their environmental benefits and don't function as accessible rooftop gardens.


Protect the roof membrane from harsh weather and ultraviolet radiation, allowing them to last twice as long traditional roofs.

Have a fairly stable surface temperature, remaining at air temperature or cooler while traditional rooftops can soar up to 90º F (32º C) above air temperature.

The extra growing medium and vegetation insulates the building from intense temperatures and minimizes heat gain. According to a Canadian study, even a six-inch extensive green roof can reduce summer energy demands by 75 percent.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!