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Great advances have been made in building products that contribute to the “greening” of Canadian homes. Today’s new homes show clearly that environmental responsibility, energy efficiency and healthy indoor living go hand in hand with comfort, convenience and great design.

New products enter the market all the time. Below is a small sampling of the latest materials, products and technologies that professional home builders are working with today. Not all are brand-new ideas. Some are improvements on standard products, or old ideas given new life. Some already enjoy widespread use, while others are at the early stages of market acceptance.

The Structure

  • Sustainable building products, like certified lumber, are produced from renewable resources that are managed to last for future generations.
  • Composite beams and joists used in framing are made from fast-growing trees using sustainable forestry practices.
  • Waste from building materials is processed and incorporated in siding, sheathing and under-sheathing. Even compressed wheat straw can turn into practical particleboard.
  • Steel studs are used in framing, particularly for interior walls. The studs contain a significant percentage of recycled metal from consumer waste.
  • • Insulation (batts or loose) is made from an array of natural and recycled materials, from newspapers and waste glass to volcanic rock, steel slag and cotton.
  • Insulated concrete forms used in foundations and exterior walls provide high levels of energy efficiency. They are also easy to assemble.
  • Slate-look roofing shingles are made with recycled plastic and rubber materials.
  • Windows offer different technical characteristics suitable for different areas of the house and exposures to the elements.


  • Integrated heating systems combine space heating and hot water heating in one system.
  • High-efficiency systems and furnaces vent exhaust gases through a pipe, eliminating the need for a chimney.
  • Radiant floor heating (hot water is pumped through coils embedded in the floor) provides foot-warming comfort and even heat distribution.
  • Zone control permits separate temperature settings in different areas of the house, for energy savings and increased comfort.
  • CFC-free air conditioning provides inside summer comfort without harming the environment.

Finishing Touches

  • New home buyers can choose from an abundance of environmentally responsible flooring options:
    • new or reused hardwood, with a low-toxicity finish.
    • ceramic tiles composed largely of waste glass.
    • natural stone such as granite and marble, also used for countertops.
    • all-natural products such as linoleum, cork and bamboo.
  • Trim and molding for windows and doors are made from sawmill wood wastes.
  • Totally solvent-free paints are available.

When doing any renovation or building a new home it is always a good idea to keep the environment in mind when choosing which products you will use.