Market Intelligence

Green & Sustainable Construction

Green Walls & Ceilings: A Guide to Product Selection

Interior Wall Systems

Particularly green interior wall systems are those made from pressed agricultural “waste,” such as straw. Some products use 100% agricultural waste product, avoid toxic binders, are fire-resistant (with a fire rating from one to two hours), and do not require structural studs.

If gypsum board is to be used, recycled content product should be specified if locally available, and gypsum board scrap should be separated on the job site to allow pieces to be recycled.


Acoustic Panels

When selecting acoustical panels, considerations should include durability and flexibility, low or no toxicity in the panel fabric, and recycled content in both panel and fabric.

Acoustical ceiling tiles often have recycled content and are recyclable. At least one ceiling tile company has a recycling program that will take old tiles, even from other manufacturers. Specifying ceiling tile with recycled content is critical to foster this reuse of resources.


Paints, Coatings, & Adhesives

Paints, coatings, and adhesives for finishes, such as flooring and wall coverings, commonly off-gas VOCs, including formaldehyde, or other toxic chemicals that affect installers as well as building occupants. Therefore, it is critical to specify low- or zero-VOC products, which are readily available today. Off-gassed VOCs can be reabsorbed into soft surfaces, such as fabrics. Because most VOCs are emitted during the application and curing process, this problem can be greatly reduced by providing good ventilation and ensuring a minimum of exposed absorptive surfaces during installation.


Wall Coverings

Low- or zero-VOC paint is preferable to wall covering applied with toxic adhesive. The best wall coverings from environmental and air-quality standpoints are nontoxic textiles adhered with low- or zero-VOC adhesives.


(This article is excerpted from RSMeans’ Green Building: Project Planning & Cost Estimating, 2nd Edition.).


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