Mother Earth Living

Best for Remodeling: AFM Safecoat, Rinnai, EnviroGLAS

Try these 5 fabulous, super-sustainable products for your home!
By Misty McNally
May/June 2008
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Not only green, EcoDomo tiles are tough as—you guessed it—leather. Installed in a 2007 Solar Decathlon show home, they survived the trampling of 80,000 visitors, just a few more than the average dinner party.

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Every year, EcoDomo recycles 5,000 tons of automobile upholstery leather scraps into luxurious floors and wall coverings. The butter-soft tiles have water-based finishes and can be installed with low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) adhesives, then maintained with regular buffing using natural carnauba wax.

Spokesperson Christian Nadeau says the company is concerned with protecting the environment: "We use recycled packaging, carbon credits to offset our travels, wood-chip scrap palettes for shipping, and wind-generated energy for our offices. And our water system is closed-loop."

Not only green, EcoDomo tiles are tough as—you guessed it—leather. Installed in a 2007 Solar Decathlon show home, they survived the trampling of 80,000 visitors, just a few more than the average dinner party.

EcoDomo: $24 to $40 per square foot, plus installation, (301) 424-7717.

Waste Not…

Ever wonder where old toilets go to die? Tim Whaley knows. His company makes terrazzo for flooring and countertops from recycled glass—and now, from recycled porcelain potties. The new product is fittingly called EnviroMODE.

Customers can design their own EnviroMODE mix from a kaleidoscope of custom colors. The product has a coconut-extract base, and once dry, emits no VOCs.

"If you were to visit the facility you would see there’s no offgassing—you don’t need a respirator or mask to work with the resins," Whaley says. "Eighty percent of our product is made from recycled materials. Zero waste is what we aim for."

EnviroMODE: $20 per square foot, (972) 473-3725.

A Match Made in Hardware Heaven

If Liz’s Antique Hardware in Los Angeles doesn’t have the funky salvaged piece you’re looking for, it probably doesn’t exist. The company’s website says it stocks 1 million items; manager Terri Hartman says she hasn’t counted them all, but she laughs, "There’s a lot."

Hartman says a nationwide salvage-operations network keeps the store’s shelves stocked full of retro drawer pulls, vintage doorknobs, unique light fixtures and uncommon bathroom accessories. The best part? Liz’s free matching service. Just mail or e-mail a photo of that pink drawer pull, along with dimensions, and Liz’s staff will search. "We just ask for a $10 check to cover our time," Hartman says.

Liz’s Antique Hardware: (323) 939-4403.

No Tank You

A Rinnai tankless water heater is about 50 percent more efficient than a gas-heated tank and 70 percent more efficient than electric because it heats water only upon demand. The Rinnai’s small size may also allow for installation closer to the kitchen or master bath, saving water by decreasing the wait for the tap to get hot.

Rinnai spokesperson Megan Harvey says tankless heaters also reduce landfill bulk. "The Rinnais have two to three times the lifespan of a tank but are about one-third the size," she says. "Plus they’re about 70 percent recyclable steel and copper."

Rinnai Tankless Water Heater Model R75LS: $1,073 to $1,142, plus installation, (800) 621-9419.

Safe and Sealed

Looking for a hardwood floor finish that knocks your socks off because of its beauty—not because of its fumes? AFM Safecoat has developed a durable, water-based polyurethane finish with very low VOC emissions—and that means it’s low odor. Spokesperson Sam Goldberg says Polyureseal BP doesn’t use harmful solvents typically found in floor finishes. "It’s so safe, it could even be used in the homes of people who are chemically sensitive," he says. Another great attribute? You can use the finish as a sealant over engineered wood products to reduce their formaldehyde outgassing by more than 90 percent.

Polyureseal BP: $85.90 per gallon, (800) 239-0321.

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