3 Ways to Be Green While Building Your Cozy Home or Tiny House

Teenage tiny house builder, Austin Hay of Santa Rosa, Calif., was able to build his house on wheels with a minimum amount of trash as a result. Towards the end of his project, there were only about three garbage cans of materials to be taken to the dump.

When building your own tiny or Cozy Home, there are ways to make the building process a bit more green. Not only can you incorporate environmentally sustainable products into your home, but you can also save money by reducing, reusing and recycling. Since no green labeling program exists and manufacturers don’t always mention if their products are green, you can purchase a directory of green products including the GreenSpec directory by Building Green, Inc. The directory lists more than 1,500 earth-friendly products and sells for $79.

#1 Reduce

How do you make your building or remodeling project as earth friendly as possible? Start by limiting the amount of material used. If you’re adding on to your home, design your addition to use standard dimensions: 8-foot-high ceilings and room dimensions that are at least 8 feet and divisible by two, since dimension lumber is manufactured in two-foot increments. Choose products that need less energy or that reclaim energy during operation. Install a dual-flush toilet or a drainwater heat recovery system. This system coils a copper freshwater pipe around a copper wastewater pipe (such as that coming from a shower or sink), which replaces a section of your existing wastewater pipe, and borrows the heat of the wastewater to lessen the workload for the home’s freshwater heater. This heat-exchange strategy saves two kilowatts during a 12-minute shower, which adds up to 20 to 25 cents. Since most Americans take a shower every day, most can save a minimum of $73 annually, assuming only one shower per house.

#2 Reuse

The sky’s the limit when it comes to reusing building materials. One company, Duluth Timber in Duluth, Minnesota, salvages logs from the bottom of Lake Superior and wood from abandoned barns to manufacture beautiful flooring and beams. Reclaimed redwood shingles can cover your roof. Made from the stumps of old-growth redwood, rather than live trees, the shingles are thick and durable, and can maintain the historic appearance of older homes – great for roofing an addition to an existing home. You can get the shingles cut to practically any size you need. If your remodeling project calls for a partial demolition, keep an eye out for materials that aren’t completely destroyed and can be reused. You don’t have to go overboard here, but be aware of what doesn’t necessarily have to go to a landfill.

#3 Recycle

There is a dizzying number of green products available that use recycled materials. You’ll find many choices in the category of composite wood alone – it’s a combination of recycled wood and plastic. BamDeck makes decking from 60% recycled bamboo fibers and 40% recycled plastics.You can fill your new exterior walls with insulation batts made from recycled cotton denim from Bonded Logic, then cover those walls with Homasote’s plywood-size multipurpose panels, which are made from 100 percent recycled newspaper, before adding your drywall. The panels have twice the insulation value of wood, resist insects, water, and mold, and act as a noise barrier.


Photo: Errth Flex exterior coating system. The material combines the highest quality resins, refined marble sand and recycled crumb rubber including rubber from old tires to formulate a base coat that is superior to cementitious base coatings. (NPS Photo / Andrew S. Muñoz)

Photo by Lake Mead Imagery

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