Going Green for Halloween

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Halloween is just around the corner, and we know that people everywhere are getting prepped for the spooky holiday. Costumes are pieced together, scary decorations are adorned around the house, and candy bowls are ready for the youngsters to grab on Halloween night. However, if you’re like some of us, you’ve procrastinated on getting the house (and yourself) ready for spooky season, and you want to be as eco-friendly as possible with all aspects of the holiday. Never fear! We have plenty of tips to help you prepare for Halloween, from decorations to costumes and everything in between.

Reuse/ Build Your Own Halloween Costume

 Have you ever noticed how pricey pre-made Halloween costumes can be? Why pay so much money for a costume that you’ll wear once a year, and that comes with tons of packaging that will just add to the planet’s extensive amount of waste? Instead, consider getting creative by browsing through thrift shops to build your own unique costume, or borrowing a used costume from a friend! It’ll help eliminate some excess waste, while also saving you some extra cash. To go even further, you can donate your costume when you’re done with it, or let another friend or family member have it!

Reuse Trick-Or-Treat Bags

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 Trick-Or-Treat bags definitely do not need to be elaborate for your kids as they go strolling for candy. Instead of going out and buying a new one, why not reuse one that you’ve used in previous years? If you or someone you know doesn’t have a candy bucket or bag that you can reuse, think about using a pillow case. It can hold more candy, it’s easy to clean, and can be put right back on your pillow after Halloween! This will keep you from spending unnecessary money, while also reducing the amount of garbage thrown out after Halloween is over.

Buy Locally Grown Pumpkins and Produce

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 Planning on carving pumpkins this year? Maybe buying some apples or apple cider? We recommend buying locally grown pumpkins and apples this season. Consider checking out nearby apple orchards and pick apples yourself! It makes for a fun family outing or date idea, plus you’ll eliminate the amount of packaging that comes from store bought produce. To get the most use out of your pumpkins, you can roast the seeds and use insides to make some baked goods. You’ll be lowering emissions by buying locally grown produce, and still be able to make some tasty treats!

Hand Out Toys and Other Fun Treats Instead of Candy 

Did you know that candy wrappers are not recyclable? This means that, once Halloween is over, there will be an abundance of trash added to our planet’s already heaping pile. To avoid this, why not hand out fun little goodies that aren’t pre-packaged? You can give kids little Halloween toys, jewelry, pencils, stickers, temporary tattoos, and other fun ideas instead of candy. It will reduce the amount of garbage compiled, while still adding to the fun of Halloween. Bonus: it’s a much healthier alternative!

Make Your Own Halloween Decorations

 Lots of people opt to buy fancy Halloween décor to adorn their house with. While it looks great, it can be expensive, and not very eco-friendly due to all of the packaging used and wasted. Instead, why not try to make your own decorations?

One way to make some amazing Halloween decorations is with our PlastiSpan handi-pac insulation. Typically used as a foam, cushion packaging solution, these pieces can be cut and molded to create whatever shapes and designs you want! You can cut them and paint them to look like pumpkins, bats, or whatever other spooky design you please.

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For other DIY decoration ideas, we highly recommend you check out Pinterest. They have thousands of easy, fun ideas that anyone (crafty or not) can make!

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Going Green Without Becoming Green: Eco-Friendly Ways to Handle Flu Season

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With autumn in full swing, people everywhere are getting excited about the beautiful weather changes, seasonal foods coming into play, and the spooky festivities that come with Halloween. However, many of us are already experiencing the downfalls of the season change: catching colds, flus, and everything in between. It’s no fun trying to ward off these pesky illnesses, and it’s even worse trying to get over them once we have caught them. To add to it, we have to try to keep the environment in mind and make decisions on how to take care of ourselves without harming the planet. Never fear though, it is easier than you would imagine. Here are a couple of tips to help fight off those yucky fall sicknesses, make the diseases bearable if you’ve already caught them, and to maintain your eco-friendly lifestyle all along the way!

Have a Healthy Diet Full of Organic Foods and Herbs

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Sure, this tip may seem like common sense, but many people overlook how helpful eating lots of fresh organic fruits and vegetables can be for their immune systems. The more nutrients and vitamins that you are taking in, the healthier your body will be and the harder your immune system will fight against unwanted bacteria. If you are already enduring a seasonal illness, adding certain herbs and spices to your diet can relieve your body of some of the symptoms. For example, ginger can alleviate symptoms of upper respiratory infections and bronchitis, and nutmeg can help you fall asleep when your ailments are making it difficult. Not to mention, adding these spices and herbs to your diet before you get sick can help fight off diseases, which your body will definitely thank you for.

Clean Your House Often

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In order to keep yourself from getting sick, you have to work to eliminate the harmful bacteria that could infect you. A lot of this bacteria can come into your household by other people spreading the germs and bringing them inside with them. So, to keep your home as clean as possible from all of these germs, be sure to clean your house regularly with all natural cleaners. Dusting, surface cleaning with hot water and soap, and washing all fabrics regularly will eliminate the amount of bacteria and mold in your home, which will help keep those pesky illnesses at bay!

Keep Your Home Comfortable and Cozy

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With the change of the season, the temperatures are guaranteed to drop and become much chillier. Lots of people struggle with this, as they aren’t completely willing to pay the extra money on their energy bills to turn up the heat in their homes. In turn, they either become sick, or adapt to the cool weather by constantly wearing layers in their home, which can be a tad annoying. Why not kill two birds with one stone and have a warm, comfortable home that won’t make your utility bills spike? The key to this is in your home’s insulation. With a great insulation system in place, your home can maintain thermal resistance and not lose its comfort to thermal bridging.

If your current insulation is not up to par, we recommend our PlastiSpan insulation. It can be applied in the walls and roof of your home, and the high r-value is guaranteed to eliminate thermal bridging, so that you won’t lose any of the heat you’re trying to keep locked inside. You will be spending less on your utility bills, and using less energy to keep your home cozy, which is a win-win for both your wallet and the environment!

Go Traditional: Use Handkerchiefs Instead of Tissues

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 It may seem somewhat outdated, but handkerchiefs may be the best way to keep your nose clean AND eliminate waste. By using a ton of tissues to blow your nose, just to throw them all away, a lot of paper is being wasted. So, why not keep a couple of handkerchiefs instead? It’s convenient, softer on your nose, and saves a few trees. Unsure about how hygienic it is to use a handkerchief? As long as you wash them regularly and don’t reuse the same one over and over, it’s just as sanitary as disposing of tissues.

6 Ways to Stay Sustainable with Food 

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Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

One of the largest, most pressing topics concerning global pollution is the fact that humans have created so much waste and have nowhere to put it. Trash is being drained out into the oceans, people are throwing away items that could easily be recycled, and landfills are piling up everywhere. Because of this large issue, the planet is suffering from some painful consequences.. There has been an abundance of cases of marine life dying or being injured due to trash floating in the water, as well as land animals who are inhaling harmful gases that are emitted into the air due to some types of manufacturing processes. All in all, it’s a dire situation that will take some time to fix.  

 Now, just because it cannot be fixed overnight does not mean that we should not take every step, no matter how small, to minimize the amount of materials that we waste and throw away. One initial step that can be taken includes looking at our daily life routines and analyzing what products we use that are unnecessary, or are not being taken care of properly. The first routine that comes to mind is one of pure necessity: eating. While the most ecofriendly practice for enjoying meals is by cooking and eating at home, we know that many people like to enjoy a night out at a nice restaurant. For those nights, we have a couple of suggestions to help eliminate the amount of waste used, and to make the planet a much healthier place for its inhabitants.  

 Refuse Plastic Straws  

 Many of you may already be aware of this, as Starbucks has recently dedicated their company to removing all plastic straws from their stores by 2020, but using plastic straws is incredibly dangerous to the environment. While these straws should never have made it into the ocean to begin with, we can do our part to make sure that any more chances of this occurring are eliminated. When eating out at a restaurant, you can politely ask your server to not bring a straw with your drink. If you feel that you need a straw to drink out of, or have a disability that requires you to use straws while drinking, there are plenty of reusable straw options online that are made of metal or glass. These are easy to clean, and sometimes even come with a keychain to make carrying it around easier! You can feel good about yourself by not adding to the amount of straws already in the ocean, while still enjoying your drink!  

Bring a Reusable Cup for Drinks 

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 If you are out at a fast food restaurant or diner that offers their beverages in paper or plastic cups, bring your own reusable cup. You will still be charged for the drink, but many establishments do not mind you bringing your own cup instead of theirs. You will be eliminating some excessive waste, while being able to get a drink and even refill it as much as you want!  

 Decline the Receipt 

 We know how convenient it is to have a copy of your receipt, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, we likely will throw it away once we leave the restaurant, and the paper that we asked for will be wasted. Do the planet’s trees a huge favor and opt out of a receipt if possible.  

 Keep the Leftovers 

 Feeling full after a large meal? Don’t let the rest of that food go to waste in a landfill! Ask your server to give you a to-go box, so that you can bring the leftovers home with you. You can save it for lunch the next day, feed it to your pets as a snack, use it for compost, or let another family member have it. (side note – considering we make and market Styrofoam (AKA EPS) we best not say it this way) 

 Take Home the Excess Paper Napkins  

 Ever go through the drive-thru at a fast food place and have a million napkins left over after finishing all of the food? Don’t let those napkins go to waste! Bring them home to use for later, or keep them in your car! We often make messes as we drive and are in need of something quick to clean them up, so why not have a backup of napkins hidden in your center console? You’ll be doing yourself, and the environment, a huge favor.  

 Take a Picnic Instead  

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Want to get a change of scenery for dinner without having to actually spend any money? Why not opt for a picnic instead of spending unnecessary cash at a restaurant? You can enjoy all of your food from home in a new, perhaps even beautiful, location and make an event out of it. Just be sure to bring reusable silverware, cups, and plates to make the experience incredibly ecofriendly.  

 The best way to travel with food would definitely be a cooler. However, you should be careful with which cooler you use. Have you ever experienced the coolers that not only crumble and fall apart but just don’t seem to keep your food cold? Not ours! Made of a molded EPS, they are stronger, sturdier, and thanks to the R-value, are more efficient at keeping your food and drinks the perfect temperature.  Try one of the EPS foam coolers that we produce! They are thick, come in a variety of sizes, and are reusable, so that you can go green while enjoying the great outdoors!

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Five Tips for an Eco-Friendly Fall Season

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Now that September is here and the summer season is fading away, the smell and essence of autumn lingers heavily in the air. Many stores are already releasing some spooky Halloween decorations, the leaves are beginning to faintly change in color, and Starbucks has begun selling their popular pumpkin spiced lattes again. While this season may be one full of changes, the nostalgia and traditions of autumn will never stray from our minds.

Now, just because the leaves are changing colors does not mean that we should lose our green, eco-friendly approach. In fact, the seasonal change is a great chance for everyone to get creative and explore the ways that they can live sustainably year-round. For those who need some guidance, here are some great tips for staying green this fall.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

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 I think we all can agree that autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons. The crisp, cool air and the scenic color change of the trees are enough to make all of us feel warm and fuzzy inside. So, why not go outside and enjoy it while it lasts? Fall is the perfect time to go hiking in the woods, ride a bike, visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, or even get lost in a corn maize. Not only will these activities allow you to enjoy autumn in all of its glory, it will also keep you from using energy inside your house! Less electricity is being used to power your sources of entertainment at home, so less energy is being consumed and wasted. Not to mention, being outdoors and exercising will be much better for your mind and body!

Set Your Thermostat to a Lower Temp

 While the temperature may be getting colder outside due to the season change, that does not mean that the thermostat needs to be turned up. Rather, keeping your thermostat set to 68 or lower will lower your energy bills, plus conserve energy. It may be uncomfortable with it being a bit colder in your home, but it can easily be fixed by wearing layers, warmer clothing, laying out thicker blankets on your bed, and having extra throw blankets available around the house. Who doesn’t love cozying up with a plush, warm blanket?

Switch Out Your Current Insulation

Not many people are aware of the impact that their insulation has on their energy use, but the correlation is strong. By having an insulation in your walls that does not fight or eliminate thermal bridging, you are losing the heat that you are trying to contain within your household, and potentially wasting a lot of money on energy bills.

Consider switching your insulation to one that is energy-efficient, simple to use, and will save you money in the long run. A very good example of this is our PlastiSpan insulation. Using this in your walls and/or roof will ensure that thermal bridging is eliminated, energy is conserved, money will be saved, and your home will be cozier than ever!

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Check the Air Pressure in Your Cars Tires

 As the weather get cooler, the air pressure in your vehicle’s tires will inevitably get lower. This may not seem like much of an issue, but this lower air pressure actually lowers your car’s fuel efficiency. This will require you to fill up on gas more frequently, which is definitely NOT eco-friendly. Eliminate the amount of fossil fuel emissions into the air by checking your tire pressure frequently and filling up the tires when necessary. Your car and the environment will thank you.

Start Composting

 While the color-changing leaves are one of the most significant and beautiful parts of the autumn season, the leaves have to fall somewhere. Inevitably, the leaves will end up in your yard, and will have to be removed before winter. While some people opt to burn the leaves or gather them in yard waste bins, we would like to offer a different alternative. Burning the leaves emits carbon dioxide and other harmful gases into the air, and filling up a yard waste bin only adds to the amount of waste piling up in landfills. Instead, why not use the leaves for composting? Your garden will be satisfied by the nutrients that come from composting the leaves, and the environment will thank you.

Road Tripping: The Green Way

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Road tripping is one of the most unique adventures one can have in their life. While they may be long and tedious objectively, the freedom of the open road, the spontaneous stops made along the way to the main destination, and the unbelievable stories that are built all throughout the journey truly make road trips a worthwhile experience. However, there are a lot of factors that come into play when planning out a road trip: how much money should be saved up, how many hours can one drive before taking a break, how many stops should be taken along the way, etc. If you are like us, then you ask yourselves an extra question: how can I stay eco-friendly while on the road? Luckily for you, we have a couple of tips and tricks that will save you some cash while also living sustainably as you travel and explore to your heart’s content!

Buying a Reusable Water Bottle

While on the road, you will discover that stopping and paying for drinks becomes very expensive and inconvenient. Why not save yourself the trouble, and purchase a large reusable water bottle? Most rest stops have a water fountain, so refilling it every couple of hours is an easy, free task. Plus, you will be reducing the amount of trash that is polluting our planet, which is a bonus in our books.

Packing Food Instead of Eating Out

 Similar to our last tip, buying food on the road becomes very expensive very quickly. Not to mention, a lot of the food you are able to buy while traveling is limited to fast food, which will make your body feel less than 100% while driving or sitting in a car for hours. Do yourself a favor and bring a cooler full of food from home to satisfy your hunger. You could fill it with sandwich meats, cheese, veggies, and condiments to make sandwiches, along with some fruits to snack on. Outside of the cooler, you could bring snacks like chips or granola bars to munch on as well. Not only will this save you some cash, but it also will allow you to use food in your refrigerator that may otherwise go bad while you were traveling. Just make sure to actually throw away your garbage and recycle anything that can be recycled at rest stops along the way; don’t litter!

Try to Pack Light

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 We know how hard it is to pack only the essentials when going on a road trip. You want to account for all possibilities, weather conditions, and planned excursions for your travels. While that may seem smart, we advise you to try to pack as light as possible. Not only will it save you some sanity when you have to unpack after coming home, but it will also lessen the amount of carbon emissions in the air from the vehicle you are driving. The less weight in the car, the less fossil fuels burned to drive the car. Sure, it may not be as convenient to limit your packing, but you will be doing yourself and the planet a huge favor.

Try to Only Travel with One Vehicle

 Going on a road trip with friends? Try to only drive with one vehicle instead of two. Sure, it may get cramped, but it will definitely save you and everyone else traveling money for gas. Plus, it will decrease the amount of fossil fuels burned and emitted into the air, which is much more eco-friendly!

Take Care of Energy Sources at Home Before Leaving

 A lot of people forget about everything at home when they are leaving for vacation. They are so wrapped up in their travel plans, making sure that they packed everything necessary, and calculating all of the costs that will build up that they forget about one of the biggest costs at home: letting their energy sources run while they are gone.

For starters, make sure that you unplug all electronics before you leave. Even if those electronics are turned off, they still have the ability to “leach” power. By unplugging them, you are saving energy while also saving some money on your electric bill.

Next, be sure to turn down your thermostat. There is no need to heat or cool an empty house while you are gone, so why spend the extra money to do so? Conserve that energy, along with the cash in your wallet.

Another great way to save energy in your home while you are gone is actually through your home’s insulation. Having proper insulation in your walls and roof will make an enormous difference in conserving energy and saving money. A lot of heat and air are lost in homes due to thermal bridging. Having an insulation that is high in thermal resistance, or r-value, will help reduce thermal bridging, and will maintain the heat or air that you desire in your home.

A great product that we recommend for your home’s walls and roof would be our PlastiSpan. It is a cost-effective, rigid EPS foam insulation that is guaranteed to eliminate thermal bridging in your home and make it more energy efficient.

If you are planning to build a new home and want a superior insulation system that will provide energy-efficiency and cost savings overall, we definitely suggest our Advantage ICF System. Similarly to PlastiSpan, it is made of EPS foam. However, the system is made of foam block pieces that have interlocking webs inside of the pieces. Once shaped and set how the home owner desires, concrete is then poured inside of the foam block pieces to ensure that a solid, thick wall is created and can eliminate thermal bridging in the future house being built around it. The Advantage ICF System additionally adds resale value to your home, which helps bring you some money back in the long run.

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7 Easy Ways to Go Green in Your Home

Within the past decade or so, the topic of sustainable living has become more and more prevalent in our society. In fact, thousands of people have already adopted the green lifestyle, and for very good reason. Doing our best to live eco-friendly gives so much back to the planet we live on, along with the people who inhabit it. On top of the numerous positive impacts that going green brings to the environment, going green stimulates the economy by creating jobs in green energy technologies, while creating a healthier planet for our civilization.

If you are already making steps to alter your habits and live green, we applaud and commend you. If not, do not fret! Our best advice for beginning this kind of lifestyle change would be to start right in your own home. Here are some simple, yet effective, ways to start becoming more eco-friendly.

Switch Out Incandescent Lightbulbs for CFLs or LEDs

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When making little changes in your home to start going green, it is best to begin with your energy sources and utilities. A good place to start is with your electrical utility. Did you know that using incandescent lightbulbs is actually not very cost effective, and uses more energy than most other lightbulbs? On average, an incandescent lightbulb uses about 60 watts and only lasts about 1,200 hours. That may not seem terrible, but in comparison to CFL and LED lightbulbs, it is the least cost-effective product. CFLs only use about 14 watts and last about 8,000 hours. LED bulbs use approximately 7 watts and last about 25,000 hours. The less wattage used, the more energy conserved, and the longer lifespan you will have with your bulbs, which means you would be spending less money on replacing them, saving some cash AND conserving energy. That’s a win-win!

Use Energy Efficient Insulation

You may not know this, but you may be losing energy and therefore money right out your walls! With typical types of insulation, such as fiberglass, heat and air are lost to thermal bridging in the roof and walls, which means your air conditioning or heat are running inefficienctly. With the right kind of insulation, your home can maintain a desired temperature that is comfortable for you. By extension, your utility bills will be nore comfortable as well.

If you already own a home and have insulation in place, but want to replace it with a more cost-effective product, we have a variety of insulation solutions that will not only fit well into your project, but also into your budget. EPS rigid foam insulation maintains it’s R-value, eliminates thermal bridging, and is versatile enough to be used in all areas of your home.For a closer look at what insulation might work for you, visit www.plastifab.com.

If you are planning on building a new home, there are multiple solutions you can use to create an energy efficient, comfortable home. The Advantage ICF System provides strong, secure, efficient exterior walls for both below and above grade. Like our rigid foam products, the blocks that make up this insulation system are made of EPS foam. However, there are interlocking webs in the individual block pieces that hold the foam together, which will then be filled with concrete during installation. The concrete provides a thick, uniform wall that holds in heat, air, and sound, making your future home comfortable, sound-proof, and incredibly energy efficient. To see if this solution works for you, visit www.advantageicf.com.

Back to Basics: Get a Recycling Bin

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We know this sounds obvious, but recycling is one of the best ways to make your home more eco-friendly. Many household items can be recycled after using them, including plastic, cardboard, paper,

aluminum, or glass. Some recycling companies provide a curbside pickup service to make recycling more convenient. However, if that is not an option for you, it is easy to search online for a nearby recycling center to drop everything off. You can also drop off batteries, televisions, and many other obscure items that would otherwise be thrown away. The more items reused and recycled, the more trash pileups are reduced!

Wash Your Laundry in Cold Water

This may sound odd, but washing your clothes in cold water really makes a difference. Using hot water for your laundry takes a lot of energy, which will reflect negatively on both the environment and your utility bills. Cold water will clean your clothes just as well as hot water, but without wasting energy. Bonus: when washing laundry with cold water, you can wash whites, darks, and colors together without having to worry!

Buy a Reusable Water Bottle

For those of you who buy bottled water in bulk, you may want to reconsider. So many plastic bottles do not get properly recycled and end up in landfills or our oceans, adding to the planet’s pollution. Buying a reusable water bottle in a fun color or print will eliminate that issue easily, while also adding some personality to your H20. Now that’s some high quality H2O!

Unplug Electronics that are Not Used Often

Let’s face it: we’re only human, and sometimes we forget to unplug our electronics when we are done using them. However, this could be a potential reason for your electric bill’s high cost. Not to mention, keeping everything plugged in when not being used is a huge waste of energy. If you have any electronics that you do not use often, or even

daily, it would be wise to unplug them until you decide to use them again. Your wallet and the planet will thank you.

See if Green Power is an Option Through Your Utility Company

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Here is something that not everyone knows: some utility companies offer a green power option. They gain their green power from wind power, biomass, hydro, solar energy, and/or geothermal energy. If you want to do your part in conserving energy for the planet, you can make a call to your utility company and see if they offer green energy options. It may seem miniscule, but it will make a world of difference when wind and water are being used to power your home instead.

Five green building trends for 2018

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As we near the middle of the year, we review the top Sustainability trends for 2018 that was prominently discussed by environmental experts.

Benefits for employees working indoors

For many years now, companies have tried to find ways to improve the productivity of their employees. Now they turn their focus on environmental factors worth the time and money. With the growing health concerns brought forth by the current setup, air quality inside office spaces have been linked to employee productivity.

Based on the article found in the website “The Kendeda Fund” (https://livingbuilding.kendedafund.org/2018/01/09/five-green-building-trends-2018/), “The most startling discovery: “Studying three ventilation strategies and four different heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems across seven U.S. cities, the team found that the indoor environment previously associated with a doubling of cognitive function test scores can be achieved at an energy cost between $14 and $40 per person per year and result in as much as a $6,500 equivalent in improved productivity per person per year.”

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The time for green and healthy buildings – is now

Previous blog posts have supported the idea that implementing green buildings are starting to gain traction among mainstream industries. Now it is no longer the case whether it is a promising trend – it is today’s reality. Having sustainable buildings for workers are no longer just a “want”, but is now a growing “need”.

The article adds: “It’s already happening. The Living Building Challenge has long incorporated healthy building criteria, such as a Red List of banned materials. Now, Version 4 is moving LEED in that direction. Meanwhile, certification programs focused strictly on health are taking off. In just two years, the WELL Building Standard has zoomed from 80 registered projects to more than 600. As of last fall, the newer (and slightly more permissive) FITwel standard already had accumulated 350 registered projects.”

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In support of Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Sharing the same belief on the importance of Sustainable Buildings, companies like PFB Corporation remain committed in performing operations that affect social and environmental concerns. Environmental conservation has always been their top priority as reflected in their practices, products and processes.

PFB’s focus for the past several years has been to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by using fossil fuels more efficiently. Additionally, PFB has an initiative underway to substitute raw material inputs with materials that contains less VOC expanding agent.

Since 2008, PFB has increased its usage of low VOC raw materials to 80% in 2014. This has resulted in an average annual VOC emissions reduction of over 100 tonnes.
With more and more online resources providing related content, building awareness on energy efficiency for buildings would increase significantly and benefit everyone in the long term.

Are you interested in learning more about sustainability? Check out http://www.pfbsustainability.com for some good insights on what some companies are doing to stay on board the sustainable path.