Decks built using eco-friendly alternative wood products such as Micro-Pro Sienna are becoming more common

HOMEFINDER: Building materials make their mark on the environment

Eco-friendly wood products beginning to take hold in market

Home building is getting greener all the time.

LEED certification and environmentally sustainable schools aren’t new, but new eco-friendly building materials and building methods are allowing these ideas and practices to trickle down to families, with smaller-scale building that doesn’t let their environmental conscience down.

“It’s fun to be able to say we have a product such as pressure-treated wood which is consumed every single day, in just about all of our house building and landscaping environments,” said Steve Conroy, Slegg Building Materials director of merchandising.

“And to be able to say we can do that, from an environmental perspective is amazing.”

For example, the introduction of MicroPro Sienna and others have made waves as products that cost about the same as less environmentally sound pressure-treated wood. They’re now available for everyone from contractors to homeowners looking to rebuild a deck with materials that protect from fungal decay, termites, corrosion, rot and weather damage.

“We do see the consumer voting with their pocketbook to go with an environmentally-friendly product,” Conroy said. “Consumers are willing to pay a little more for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified. Then they are certainly willing to pay the same amount for an environmental product.”

MicroPro Sienna uses ground copper as a preservative, but eschews the traditional solvents to break down the copper that’s pressure-treated into the wood. This reduces leak or leeching of these chemicals into the ground or water. Projects including decks, docks, gazebos, fences, gardens, sheds that need pressure-treated wood, maintain the longevity, without the negative effects.

“It takes as much pressure to get the chemical out of the wood, as it did to get it into wood. That means you can have it in a flower bed, you can have it in a raised flower garden or vegetable garden and not worry about any chemicals getting back into your food,” he said. “We are right on board with that same trend … it’s a no brainer.”

Seeing this type of innovation in such a high-volume building product is a big deal, Conroy said. He sees other companies eventually following suit and sees increased opportunity for consumers to make the same choices down the line.

“The manufacturers have the desire to make more environmentally beneficial products, but it’s a difficult thing to do. I know they are investing both resources and innovation budgets to finding environmental alternatives,” he said. “If we can support that and continue to bring new innovation to the building materials industry, then we are going to be much better off both as a society and as a reseller.”

alim@goldstreamgazette.com

Q: WHAT ARE SOME ALTERNATIVES TO PRESSURE TREATED WOOD?

MicroPro Sienna began looking at ways to reduce its environmental footprint when paint manufacturers were mandated to reduce the volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in their paints.

Companies making pressure-treated woods were using similar solvents in their preservatives. So research and development led them to machining the copper down to small enough particles, instead of using chemicals to break them down.

Most untreated wood used outdoors is subject to decay because of the climate and weather, especially on Vancouver Island, so most use pressure-treated preservative to maintain the integrity of the supplies. However, even with a good product, using a water seal will help ensure the wood lasts, and maintain the natural brown tones over time.

Other options – such as using cedar outdoors – exist. Cedar is a great option, because of naturally occurring enzymes that resist decay.

However, the wood is typically 30-per-cent more expensive than any pressure-treated wood, not to mention the price difference between untreated wood.

GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » MONTH TO DATE APRIL 4/16 — COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD

» 85 / 840 — NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL, APRIL 2015

» 136 / 1,413 –NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, APRIL 2015

» 2,584 / 3,945 — ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, APRIL 2015

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