Green Horizon: A Guide To Eco and Human-Friendly Building Materials and Their Sources

By: adminMay 14, 2024

By Andrew Pace, Healthy Home Concierge, Founder of the Green Design Center and Host of the Non-Toxic Environments Podcast

Some links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Just like consumers know they can find organic, non GMO and a variety of gluten-free food options at stores like Whole Foods and by shopping at their local farmers markets, home builders too, have a source for procuring safe, healthy, non-VOC building materials. 

Humans spend 80% of their time indoors and there is a movement to care about the healthy components of building materials. I started the Green Design Center over 30 years ago as a place for home builders, contractors and architects to find and source healthy building materials for their clients that are safe for the human and often four-legged occupants of the home too!

The Need For Healthy Homes:

Homesick has a new meaning. The way our homes have been built in the last century is reinforcing lifestyles that make us sick, stressed, alienated, and unhappy. 

Mold-resistant grout, tile and caulk in the primary bath? Now we’re talking! These are the important features homeowners and realtors are becoming more aware of and more educated on. It has been my pleasure and life’s passion to work with some of the best and healthiest manufacturing companies around the world such a the Portugal-based Amorim Cork, which was founded in 1870 and Sapienstone, an Italian-based porcelain company offering the best in non-toxic and antimicrobial countertops.

Please don’t let the name of foreign countries turn you away from finding healthy and affordable building materials.

Paint:

“Can you help me find a low or zero VOC paint?,” is one of the most popular questions I receive. My answer is, just about every paint made today is low or zero-VOC. However, the VOC content does not dictate the health impact to the human occupant. The toxicity of the ingredients used does.

So, I recommend AFM Safecoat. They are a tried and true brand that has been a leader in the industry. AFM Safecoat was created in collaboration with physicians to create healthy, eco-friendly products for laboratories, hospitals, and schools. AFM SafeCoat offers a range of zero-VOC paint products that seal in off-gassing and dry quickly for those sensitive to chemicals or suffering from allergies and asthma. It is the best choice for a new home or nursery as well. Available for $73.70 per gallon at the Green Design Center.

Countertops:

Countertops are where we cook and bake, do homework and entertain our friends and family. Having a surface that doesn’t protect or withstand high traffic and multi-use is no good! I do recommend porcelain as it is naturally heat and stain resistant and less costly than Carrera marble and it never needs to be sealed.

Another great option is Solid Surface as it can be used in the bathroom and kitchen and is super durable.

Over the past few years, bathrooms have become the sanctuary of the home and having a healthy surface to protect from germs and mold is very important, especially in the shower and sink areas.  My podcast episode on countertops can be found here.


Flooring:

Lastly, flooring is another popular topic my clients consult me on. Breathing in chemicals from a stain or cleaner is the source of many issues for those with allergies, asthma or chemical sensitivities.

One of my favorite flooring choices is cork. Cork is a natural material that is soft, warm, and durable with an array of beautiful colors. Have you ever thought about its health benefits such as offering additional support to the human posture? Amorim Cork Flooring offers the perfect mix to reduce heel strike impacts and related body tensions, but stable enough to help the foot impulse and provide the needed stability to reduce effort on walking and decrease body fatigue.

The properties of cork offer a natural thermal insulation making cork floors very energy efficient. Cork is also an extremely efficient natural sound absorber because its cells work as an acoustic insulator. Amorim Cork Flooring floors can easily cut noise within a room and act as a noise buffer between the floor and the rooms underneath.

Amorim Cork Flooring recently released their Wood Bionatural XL flooring material. It is 100% natural and fossil plastic free.  The core is made from cork, sugar cane waste and other natural materials, and is completely recyclable. The wood and stone surface treatments are actually made from a cutting-edge digital printing and 3D embossing technology, which is again, plastic free.  This is an INDUSTRY DISRUPTING technology. The vinyl and plastic laminate producers will be forced to change their ways now that Amorim has shown it can be done without those ingredients.

Image: The Spruce | Margot Cavit

Additional insights:

For other human-friendly materials, to request samples or for consulting advice on other ways to make your home safer and non-toxic, please visit www.thegreendesigncenter.com.    


About Andrew Pace:

Andrew Pace is a Healthy Home Concierge and Founder of The Green Design Center, a leading resource for homeowners and contractors looking to source products that are healthy and green and receive expert consulting advice on designing and building healthy green homes. Andrew is the host of the weekly Non Toxic Environments Podcast. He is a worldwide expert on green and healthy building products and services customers and contractors from around the globe. As founder of the oldest healthy building supply company in the United States, Andrew has become one of the single most helpful and educational experts dealing with the day-to-day concerns of those individuals who suffer from allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities.  Please follow along at @nontoxicenviornments and https://www.thegreendesigncenter.com.    

His projects and expertise have been featured in numerous media outlets and industry podcasts including Real SimpleMen's Health , Architectural Digest and Wellnessmama just to name a few.  He has recently presented alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Deepak Chopra  as part of the 2023  Change The Air Summit with host Michael Rubino and discussed The Science of Healthy Buildings at the Healthier Tech Summit.   

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