I’ve been wanting to write a story on this subject for at least two years now, but until recently there wasn’t any study to cite which would back up my position on this. But now a study has come out and it’s time to go public with information that will shock a lot of home buyers and homeowners: “Green” homes are often a complete fraud!
Surprised? Here’s why this statement is true:
Home builders know buyers want “green” homes. So they leap on the easiest opportunity to make a few simple modifications to the home and then slap a green label on it. To justify this “green” label, they seal off all the air flow between the home and the outside world, thereby creating an “air tight” home that has virtually no air leaks. Because this results in lower costs for air conditioning and heating, they call this a “green” home. And because home construction regulators are absolutely clueless about green living, this all gets the big thumbs up even though it’s not green at all!
Why isn’t it really green? Because when there’s no air exchange with the outside world, the density of toxic chemicals in the air INSIDE the home skyrockets! Where a “leaky” home would vent out high concentrations of the toxic chemicals off-gassing from paint, carpets, glues, particle board furniture, varnishes and construction materials, a so-called “green” home traps all these toxic chemicals inside the home, greatly increasing the risk of cancer to its occupants.
Meanwhile, even though these homes are called “green” homes, there is virtually NO reduction in the use of toxic chemicals in the construction of those homes. So all the materials used inside the home are still the same nasty toxic cancer-causing chemicals used in non-green homes: It’s the same paint, same glue, same caulking, same treated wood, same pesticide sprays around the foundation, and so on. There’s actually nothing GREEN about these homes at all!
What’s a green home?
To truly qualify as a “green” home, a house would need to be built with low-VOC or no-VOC paints, sustainably harvested wood from a local source, no chemical pesticide sprays on the foundation, and no glues, resins or caulking that gives off toxic chemicals.
It’s a question of materials that go into the home, and today’s so-called “green” home builders pay almost no attention whatsoever to the materials. They’re all focused on the energy consumption alone.
Furthermore, many people who own a “green” home still treat their lawns with chemical pesticides, completely contradicting the whole point of going green in the first place. Homeowners also typically treat indoor pest problems with chemical pesticides (“Call the pest control company!”) which ends up poisoning them even more because their “green” home is so air tight that the pesticide chemicals have no way to ventilate out.
For those looking for safe indoor pest control, by the way, we’ve begun recommending a company called Always Eco (www.AlwaysEco.com/products) which offers botanically-based pest control products that use wintergreen oils and other powerful plant extracts to deal with ants, roaches, scorpions and other indoor pests. These products are all perfectly safe to use indoors — even around pets and infants.
Greenwashing is alive and well in the housing industry
The practicing of jumping on the “green” bandwagon to sell a home that isn’t really green is called greenwashing, and it’s happening throughout the housing industry.
Truthfully, the greenest home you can buy is one that’s already built because no new materials are needed to build you a new home. Buying a used home also avoids the massive off-gassing of chemicals that usually happens in the first year after a new home is built. Many materials, in other words, are extremely toxic in the first year, but their toxicity goes down thereafter.
Use indoor plants as living air cleaners
No matter what kind of home you live in, the use of indoor plants can have a HUGE impact on reducing the toxicity of your indoor air. Plants are natural air filtration systems that quite literally inhale toxic chemicals and then process them into harmless elements that are then exhaled back into the room. The fast-growing jungle-type indoor plants are the best for this purpose because the greater the total leaf area of the plants, the more cleaning effect you’re getting.
So don’t be fooled by the marketing of “green” homes which are really just toxic air traps for their owners. Know the difference between a truly green home versus an air-tight home. And don’t be a sucker for the new home builders who fill their homes with toxic chemicals while trying to pawn them off as somehow being green.