Going Green – locally
Incorporating locally produced “green” materials and components in your project is a sustainable practice in several ways. By reducing the distance that materials used in your project have to travel, less fossil fuel will be burned thus reducing the carbon footprint of your development. Shipping windows or tile from a plant in Iowa to Seattle will take many gallons of diesel, whether by truck rail or even air. Using locally produced goods will also strengthen the local economy in which your project will exist, as well as bolstering the companies here that produce such sustainable goods enabling them to expand their product offerings.
What is local? Materials I will discuss below are manufactured within 200 miles of the Seattle metro area.
Since there are many products not produced or harvested locally, I recommend salvage and deconstruction as a way to augment what can be found within a 200 mile zone.
The easiest component to source locally is lumber. The Puget Sound region has many kinds of wood being sustainably harvested, including Doug Fir, Cedar, Red Alder, and Madrone. Framing lumber, timbers, and plywood are available from nearby forests, though depending on where it is purchased the locale of origin might be hard to identify. Many smaller lumberyards can provide the location of where their wood was harvested, especially the FSC certified lumber. The Forest Stewardship Council is a non-profit that publishes guidelines for sustainable harvesting of lumber, and its certification indicates the wood comes from a forest which is well managed according to strict environmental, social and economic standards.
Windfall Lumber is a Tumwater based company specializing in certified wood products for commercial and residential use sourced from reclaimed tank stock and buildings on the west coast, FSC certified hardwood and softwood forests, and logs salvaged from urban forests in the northwest. Products include a line mouldings milled from reclaimed Douglas fir, flooring products, butcher block, and hardwood stock. Other woods they carry from local Northwest sources include Big Leaf Maple, Red Alder, and Madrone (butcher block). In addition to a variety of countertop butcher block (both end grain and side grain in multiple species), they offer a full millwork shop that can mill any profile of trim lumber. According to Chris van Daalen of Windfall, all of the aforementioned species can be found within 200 miles of Seattle, and the company can verify this.
They also stock SCF certified wood. Smartwood Certified Forestry (a program of the Rainforest Alliance) is a national non-profit that conducts audits, maintains chain of custody (COC) information, and accredits wood salvaging operations.
Windfall Lumber is also a member of the Healthy Forest Healthy Community partnership, a non-profit network of businesses that are locally owned and committed to making high quality wood products in a way that maintains forest health.
This local business can supply the flooring, framing timbers, mouldings, decking, and countertops for your project.
There are several local companies dealing in sustainable flooring choices like bamboo, but the bamboo is grown overseas in china and usually milled into plywood or flooring there before being shipped here to be packaged and marketed. Teragren on Bainbridge Island is one example. We won’t include these companies in this report, even thought they often encompass environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing and business practices.
Cherry Creek is a Vashon Island based company that has been making wood windows and doors since the early 1970’s. They use vertical grain Doug Fir grown here in the Northwest. Wood is a renewable material if harvested in a sustainable manner, and this company offers windows made of FSC certified wood. Glazing is energy efficient glass with low-e and argon gas.
The glass might not be manufactured within 200 miles, but does come from Pacific Northwest suppliers.
Squak Mountain Stone is a countertop material that has the look and feel of soapstone or concrete. It is made from recycled waste paper, waste glass dust, Portland cement, pigments and waste fly ash, with both ingredients being sourced within a 125 mile radius of Seattle. It contains 67% recycled content, mainly post-industrial with a small amount of post-consumer content. The product is fabricated in Woodinville and distributed only at the Ecohaus in Seattle.
The class F fly ash in this material is from a regional coal generating power plant. The Portland cement, though not recycled, is sourced from a manufacturer in South Seattle. The Glass is from local window manufacturers & installers. The manufacturer of Squak Mountain stone also participated in the Green Tags program, which offsets the carbon dioxide generated from the manufacturing process of the Portland cement used in the Stone. Every Green Tag prevents 1,400 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions from entering our atmosphere. Money collected from the Green Tags supports the production of electricity at wind and solar plants here in the Northwest, in turn reducing the amount of energy generated at fossil fuel plants and thus reducing their emissions.
The countertop material has two coats of a factory applied food-grade acrylic sealer. It comes in stock sizes and 5 colors, with custom sizes available by special order. The manufacturer also makes 12”x12” tiles and smaller “Subway” tiles in the same colors.
Another counter and surface material is Paperstone. It’s “Certified Series” is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper and a proprietary, petroleum-free resin made from Cashew shells. It is the only solid surface material certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, Smartwood and the Rainforest Alliance. It can also be used as an exterior rain screen, vertical cabinet panels, and interior window sills.
For finishes, Seattle’s Best Paint Company has been producing no- and low-VOC paints since 1989, a pioneer in the field. There paints limit or eliminate volatile organic compounds, chemicals that are used in many paints and finishes and are released during the drying process, easily evaporating at room temperature. Repeated exposure is thought to cause everything from headaches to cancer.
Best paints also have no or low levels of Biocides, or use low/no VOC biocides. Biocides in paint are usually fungicides to inhibit mold and mildew growth on painted surfaces, and can be mixed in to paint as needed.
Best offers primers, interior paints and exterior paints in 4 sheens, as well as floor paints useful on porches and stairs.
Bedrock Industries tile in Seattle uses local waste glass to make their glass tiles. Their Blazestone tiles are 100% post-industrial and post-consumer glass with no added pigments (the glass provides the color). They also have a stone yard that has many salvaged stone and tile items, recycled glass items, as well as 2nds from their manufacturing.
Though there is an accelerated kilowatt credit multiplier available for solar generating equipment is manufactured in Washington (in addition to the annual $2000 credit for power sold back to the grid at $.15/kwh), producers of solar photovoltaic modules are conspicuously absent in Washington, but other businesses in the state are involved at various points in the creation of PV systems. Arlington, in Snohomish County, is home to two manufacturers of the current inverters that turn DC power from solar arrays into usable, storable AC power— locally based Outback Power Systems and Xantrex, a Canadian firm that recently bought Trace Engineering.
Shell Solar, which bought out Siemens Solar, produces the pure silicon used to build solar cells in Vancouver, Wash. The silicon is formed into ingots there, shipped to California, then cut into wafers and made into photovoltaic cells.
In summary, you can see there are a variety of wood products available here locally, and several interior finish options. But to fill in the gaps you will have to expand your range to encompass Green materials from other parts of the country and overseas, as well as products with unknown origins. Using salvage materials is a good option to source materials you can’t find local manufacturers for. I’ll look at local building material salvage shops in an upcoming post.