Ever since the environmentally friendly building supply store Green Depot opened in New York, we have wondered: Is it worth it-financially, environmentally, and for your own health-to make your renovation more sustainable? A homeowner and his contractor weigh in.
On the television program Renovation Nation,
host Steve Thomas travels to beautifully appointed eco-friendly homes, presenting each one as the logical sustainable choice. In the real world, however, it's not that simple. Those homes cost more. Way more.That's why my contractor Mike Borcina loves to mock the green movement. Contractors, Borcina explains, balance a customer's desire for real sustainable building with increased labor costs. It's often cheaper to send perfectly good materials into landfill than to take the time to prepare them for re-use. We know this, but what should we do about it?Given his choice, Borcina would way rather not use the toxic product. "Years ago, when I came up and got all my habits, these things weren't important," he says. "Now whether or not we like them, we should be using them. We have to. It needs to be done."And lately, he's even gotten excited about green building. Last Christmas, he called me from Thailand. The off-the-grid village he was staying in was powered by rooftop solar panels. Two months back, he pulled kitchen cabinets out of another client's house to give to me. Clearly, Borcina is getting on board.But following sustainable principles while renovating a home can still cost whole lot more. How much more? To find out, we visited Manhattan's sexy new Green Depot and compared their products to conventional choices at Home Depot, their more conventional competitor. Here's what we found.Green Depot FSC 3/4-inch plywood ($0.72 per square foot) Vs. Home Depot 3/4-inch plywood ($0.65 per square foot)Conventional plywood contains formaldehyde, which according to the EPA, "causes cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans." Green Depot wood is Forest Stewardship Council certified and formaldehyde free.
I'd choose the Green Depot product. Formaldehyde scares me. Simple as that
Green Depot. I always buy the best plywood. I'd spend an extra 3 to 5 percent to make it greener.