Going green in your house or business doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality for the sustainability of the planet.
Today there are many high-quality, environmentally-friendly interior fixtures and finishes that not only look great, but are more durable than many other products on the market.
Robert Wood, of Robert Wood Lighting and Interiors, said his company offers many sustainable ‘green’ products, starting with an entire line made from bamboo.
Bamboo, which is the fastest-growing plant on earth, produces a wood that can be used to make timber wood, walls, flooring, cabinetry and furniture.
“The bamboo products I carry come from sustainable forests that are replanted every five years,” Wood said, warning however that not all bamboo products are the same. Bamboo harvested too early is softer than mature bamboo, which could result in application problems and insect infestation.
“You have to be careful about what you’re buying. Some people just buy strictly on price point and it can come back to bite them.”
Wood said people should look for the FSC – or Forest Stewardship Council – seal, which certifies a sustainable chain of production for the material.
If harvested and produced in sustainable methods, bamboo is very versatile in that it can be used indoors or outdoors and in both commercial and residential applications, Wood said. In addition, bamboo is water resistant, extremely strong, durable, low-maintenance and, just as importantly, it is very attractive.
Bamboo flooring is also extremely hard. “You can’t hurt it,” Wood said, adding that it’s also easy to maintain. “All you need is a damp mop and a little vinegar or non-abrasive cleaner.”
But bamboo can also be used to for many other applications, including fencing, furniture, cabinets, linens and other textiles.
“Bamboo takes on many shapes, forms and colours,” Wood said, adding that bamboo linens and blankets are known for their softness. In additional to residential applications, bamboo is being used in restaurants, retail outlets and even in educational settings.
“It’s almost endless what you can do with it,” he said.
Another sustainable material Wood sells is cork, which makes a beautiful flooring material.
At first thought, it wouldn’t seem that cork is a sustainable material because it takes so long to grow. However, unlike with most materials that come from trees, a cork oak tree doesn’t have to be killed to harvest its valuable bark. Once harvested, the bark will grow back in nine to 11 years. Since cork oak trees can live 200 years or more, cork can be harvested many times.
“Like anything else, it has to be installed properly,” Wood said of cork.
Yet another durable and sustainable material for flooring is called Durapalm, a material that comes from coconut palm trees that are past their fruit-bearing years. Like a coconut shell, Durapalm is extremely hard and durable.
Other environmentally friendly products offered at Wood Lighting and Interiors include water-saving Caroma toilets.
Developed in Australia, the toilets only use 0.8 gallons for a half flush or 1.6 gallons of water for a full flush, depending on which button is pressed.
“The Australians have been into water-saving technologies for years,” Wood said. “The design is what really makes it different.”
Wood said the first large installation of Caroma toilets in the United States was at a Hilton Hotel.
“In the first year, they saved over one million gallons of water and cut their utility bill by $6,000 per month,” he said. “They also had no call-backs in the first year, so they reduced their maintenance costs as well.”
Of course, Robert Wood Lighting and Interiors also offers energy efficient “green” lighting solutions.
For interiors, Wood said LED lighting is the wave of the future.
“Florescent lighting as we know it is going to disappear,” he said. “LED for the home is something I’d recommend because that’s where the world is heading.”
In addition to being more energy efficient, LED lighting gives off less heat and has a longer life than other kinds of interior lighting. Wood said it’s already available in many forms including pendant lighting, recess lighting and even chandeliers.
There are more efficient exterior lighting fixtures available for outdoors, too, Wood said, in particular for roadway, parking and security lights.
The light coming from induction fixtures is brighter, whiter and it costs less in terms of power usage.
Wood said the up-front cost of the fixture was higher, but there were large cost savings when it came to electricity costs.
With security lighting, induction lights last 100,000 hours and are 50 per cent more cost effective in terms of energy consumption compared to halogen, Wood said.
“[Induction lighting] has an excellent Colour Rendering Index and it cuts the carbon emissions of a regular light in half,” he said, adding that the bulb only loses 15 per cent of its output over its entire lifespan.