Green Archer

Green Construction

Green construction involves buildings that are designed and constructed as integrated systems, leading to the most cost-effective and environmentally considerate construction. Each building project has unique needs and characteristics, and Thomas Archer recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every situation. In taking a green approach to building, we focus on three key areas, while keeping in mind that a holistic approach is ideal. Our main target areas for building green are:

1. Demolition and Construction Management

Thomas Archer can plan the demolition and construction process to maximize reuse of materials and facilitate recycling of materials that will not be reused on site. We consider not only how building materials will be used, but how existing structures and materials can be used, reused, and disposed. This involves a few key considerations:

  • What opportunities are available for reducing and recycling demolition waste and construction debris?
  • How can the construction job be managed to efficiently sort and collect waste and debris for reuse or recycling?
  • How can storm water runoff be minimized during site construction?

2. Smart Material and Product Choices

Thomas Archer knows that well-chosen building materials provide a number of benefits, including -structural soundness, shielding from the elements, enhanced comfort of the interior environment, and an aesthetically pleasing visual identity. By focusing on these elements as an end-product of building, Thomas Archer is able to spotlight opportunities to increase the quality of those services, minimize waste on site, and reduce the environmental impacts of materials production on a life-cycle basis. As a result, we consider a number of factors when making building material choices:

  • How can scrap or waste be minimized when estimating the quantities of materials that will be needed?
  • Can alternative framing techniques reduce structural wood requirements?
  • Are there structural materials that will reduce energy costs by reducing heat loss?
  • What opportunities are available for incorporating reusable and recycled wood, stone, wallboard, fixtures, and other materials into the building?
  • Where virgin lumber is necessary, can wood be acquired from certified sources? Are there potential uses for non-wood materials, such as plastic lumber, or agricultural residue?
  • What opportunities can be incorporated in the design to maximize reuse, remodeling ease and durability?

3. Creating a Healthy Indoor Environment

People spend more than 80 percent of their time indoors. People will be healthier and more productive when indoor air is kept fresh and free of unhealthy fumes, chemicals, particles, and biological contaminant. When considering the green effect, Thomas Archer evaluates a number of considerations:

  • How can the building keep the interior well ventilated without compromising energy efficiency?
  • What choices should be made in selection of building materials, adhesives, coatings, and fabrics to prevent buildup of harmful fumes and particles and harboring of biological contaminants?

4. Water and Energy Efficiency


Water provides basic services: human health, cleaning, and waste management. By focusing on the services water provides, opportunities to minimize water waste indoors, will reduce water and sewage utility bills, and protect the health of streams that wildlife depend upon. Thomas Archer will consider:

  • What water-efficient measures are possible for equipment, HVAC, and other industrial processes?
  • What water-efficient fixtures are available for kitchen, bath and laundry?


Like water, energy provides basic services, including light, comfort, safe food, and cleanliness. The production of energy touches a vast array of environmental and public health concerns - air quality, climate change, and fish and wildlife habitat, for example. By focusing on the services that energy provides, opportunities to improve energy efficiency, tap clean energy sources, and improve the overall quality of the indoor environment will become apparent. In order to achieve energy savings, Thomas Archer considers:

  • How can the building be designed to make optimum use of natural daylight?
  • How can long-term energy costs be minimized by making efficient, integrated choices for the building shell, windows, heating/cooling equipment, appliances and electric lighting?

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Why Build Green?

The three primary reasons that customers opt for green construction in their building project involve sustainability; healthy living; and resource efficiency.

1. Sustainability means that your house will last longer, because it is built using materials that coexist with the environment, requiring less maintenance over the life of the structure.

2. Healthy Living involves reduced Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are gasses emitted by materials used during the building process and after. Some common VOC sources include: aerosol sprays, cleaners, formaldehyde, paint, solvents, etc. Other indoor pollutants will also be reduced such as; biological contaminants (mold, bacteria, dust mites, roaches, pet dander, pollens), environmental contaminants (tobacco smoke, chimney smoke).

3. Energy and Resource Efficient construction involves saving energy and natural resources for our future. This includes, among other things, landscaping to reduce the amount of water and fertilizers required to maintain foliage; vinyl insulated windows; open cell-foam insulation; and the type and settings of your air conditioner and air cleaners.

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What Makes a Product Green?

The process of determining what is "green" is an evolving one. Standards and thresholds continue to evolve over time, and opportunities for effective green construction may vary from one project to another. A number of circumstances affect choices in building green, including whether the project involves new or refurbished construction, project location, and a host of other issues. Thomas Archer has identified a number of key "green building" industry standards that we are motivated to follow for our customers that desire to build green.

Defining what is "Green"

In building and remodeling, many materials and products will be used. Even in the greenest of projects it is likely that many products will be used that are not themselves green-but they are used in a manner that helps reduce the overall environmental impacts of the building. For example, a particular window may not be green, but the way it is used maximizes collection of low winter sunlight and blocks the summer sun. Creating a green building means matching the products and materials to the specific design and site to minimize the overall environmental impact. Therefore, products may be considered in both isolation and in how it can be used to make a building green - not just what makes a certain product green.

Green Standards

Following are general criteria that Thomas Archer uses to designate building products as green. Please click on any of these criteria for a detailed look at what types of materials are involved.

  • Salvaged, Recycled, or Agricultural Waste Content Products - The materials used to produce a building product (and where those materials came from) are key determinants for "green" qualification.
  • Salvaged Products - Whenever we can reuse a product instead of producing a new one from raw materials-even if those raw materials are recycled-we save on resource use and energy. Many salvaged materials used in buildings (bricks, millwork, framing lumber, plumbing fixtures, and period hardware) are sold on a local or regional basis by salvage yards.
  • Post-Consumer Recycled Content Products - Recycled content is an important feature of many green products. From an environmental standpoint, post-consumer is preferable to pre-consumer recycled content, because post-consumer recycled materials are more likely to be diverted from landfills.
  • Pre-Consumer Recycled Content Products - Pre-consumer (also called "post-industrial") recycling refers to the use of industrial by-products, as distinguished from material that has been in consumer use. Iron-ore slag used to make mineral wool insulation, fly ash used to make concrete, and PVC scrap from pipe manufacture used to make shingles are examples of post-industrial recycled materials. While post-consumer recycled content is better than pre-consumer recycled content, the latter can still qualify a product as green-especially those where there are no products available with post-consumer recycled content.
  • Agricultural Waste Material-Derived Products - A number of products are considered green because they are derived from agricultural waste products. Most of these are made from straw-the stems left after harvesting cereal grains.
  • Products That Conserve Natural Resources - Aside from salvaged or recycled content, there are a number of other ways that products can contribute to the conservation of natural resources. These include products that serve a function using less material than the standard solution, products that are especially durable and therefore won't need replacement as often, products made from FSC-certified wood, and products made from rapidly renewable resources.
  • Products that Reduce Material Use - Products meeting this criterion may not be distinctly green on their own but are included because of resource efficiency benefits that they make possible. For example, drywall clips allow the elimination of corner studs, engineered stair stringers reduce lumber waste, pier foundation systems minimize concrete use, and concrete pigments can turn concrete slabs into attractive finished floors, eliminating the need for conventional finish flooring.
  • Products with Exceptional Durability or Low-Maintenance Requirements
    These products are environmentally attractive because they need to be replaced less frequently, or their maintenance has very low impact. Sometimes, durability is a contributing factor to the green designation but not enough to distinguish the product as green on its own. This criterion is highly variable by product type. Included in this category are such products as fiber-cement siding, fiberglass windows, slate shingles, and vitrified-clay waste pipe.
  • Certified Wood Products - Third-party forest certification, based on standards developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), is the best way to ensure that wood products come from well-managed forests. Wood products must go through a chain-of-custody certification process to carry an FSC stamp. Manufactured wood products can meet the FSC certification requirements with less than 100% certified wood content through percentage-based claims. A few manufactured wood products, including engineered lumber and particleboard or MDF, can be included if they have other environmental advantages-such as absence of formaldehyde binders.
  • Rapidly Renewable Products - Rapidly renewable materials are distinguished from wood by the shorter harvest rotation-typically 10 years or less. They are biodegradable, often (but not always) low in VOC emissions, and generally produced from agricultural crops. Because sunlight is generally the primary energy input (via photosynthesis), these products may be less energy-intensive to produce-though transportation and processing energy use must be considered. Examples include linoleum, form-release agents made from plant oils, natural paints, geotextile fabrics from coir and jute, cork, and such textiles as organic cotton, wool, and sisal.
  • Products That Avoid Toxic or Other Emissions - Some building products are considered green because they have low manufacturing impacts, because they are alternatives to conventional products made from chemicals considered problematic, or because they facilitate a reduction in polluting emissions from building maintenance.

We have created several subcategories here for Green Products:

  1. Natural or minimally processed products - Products that are natural or minimally processed can be green because of low energy use and low risk of chemical releases during manufacture. These can include wood products, agricultural or nonagricultural plant products, and mineral products such as natural stone and slate shingles.
  2. Alternatives to ozone-depleting substances - Included here are categories where the majority of products still contain or use HCFCs: rigid foam insulation and compression-cycle HVAC equipment.
  3. Alternatives to hazardous products - Some materials provide a better alternative in an application dominated by products for which there are concerns about toxic constituents, intermediaries, or by-products. Fluorescent lamps with low mercury levels are included here, along with form release agents that won't contaminate water or soils with toxicants. Also included here are alternatives to products made with chlorinated hydrocarbons such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated fire retardants.
  4. Products that reduce or eliminate pesticide treatments - Periodic pesticide treatment around buildings can be a significant health and environmental hazard. The use of certain products can obviate the need for pesticide treatments, and such products are therefore considered green. Examples include physical termite barriers, borate-treated building products, and bait systems that eliminate the need for broad-based pesticide application.
  5. Products that reduce stormwater pollution - Porous paving products and green (vegetated) roofing systems result in less stormwater runoff and thereby reduce surface water pollution. Stormwater treatment systems reduce pollutant levels in any water that is released.
  6. Products that reduce impacts from construction or demolition activities - Included here are various erosion-control products, foundation products that eliminate the need for excavation, and exterior stains that result in lower VOC emissions into the atmosphere. Fluorescent lamp and ballast recyclers and low-mercury fluorescent lamps reduce environmental impacts during demolition (as well as renovation).
  7. Products that reduce pollution or waste from operations - Alternative wastewater disposal systems reduce groundwater pollution by decomposing organic wastes or removing nutrients more effectively. Masonry fireplaces burn fuel-wood more completely with fewer emissions than conventional fireplaces and wood stoves. Recycling bins and compost systems enable occupants to reduce their solid waste generation.
  8. Products That Save Energy or Water - The ongoing environmental impacts that result from energy and water used in operating a building often far outweigh the impacts associated with building it. There are several quite distinct subcategories:
    Building components that reduce heating and cooling loads
  9. Examples include structural insulated panels (SIPs), insulated concrete forms (ICFs), autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) blocks, and high-performance windows and glazings.
  10. Equipment that conserves energy and manages loads - With energy-consuming equipment, such as water heaters and refrigerators, we have good data on energy consumption and can set clear standards accordingly. In most product categories-e.g., refrigerators, dishwashers, and clothes washers-we use thresholds set by Energy Star®. With lighting and lighting control equipment, certain generic products qualify, such as compact fluorescent lamps and occupancy/daylighting controls.
  11. Renewable energy and fuel cell equipment - Equipment and products that enable us to use renewable energy instead of fossil fuels and conventional electricity are highly beneficial from an environmental standpoint. Examples include solar water heaters, photovoltaic systems, and wind turbines. Fuel cells are also included here, even though fuel cells today nearly always use natural gas or another fossil fuel as the hydrogen source-they are considered green because emissions are lower than combustion-based equipment and because the use of fuel cells will help us eventually move beyond fossil fuel dependence.
  12. Fixtures and equipment that conserve water - All toilets and most showerheads today meet the federal water efficiency standards, but not all of these products perform satisfactorily.
  • Products that Contribute to a Safe, Healthy Built Environment - Buildings should be healthy to live or work in and around, and product selection is a significant determinant of indoor environment quality. Green building products that help to ensure a healthy built environment can be separated into several categories:
  • Products that Do Not Release Significant Pollutants Into the Building - Included here are zero- and low-VOC paints, caulks, and adhesives, as well as products with very low emissions, such as nonformaldehyde manufactured wood products.
  • Products that Block the Introduction, Development or Spread of Indoor Contaminants - Certain materials and products are green because they prevent the generation or introduction of pollutants-especially biological contaminants-into occupied space. Duct mastic, for example, can block the entry of mold-laden air or insulation fibers into a duct system. "Track-off" systems for entryways help to remove pollutants from the shoes of people entering. Coated ductboard-compared with standard rigid fiberglass ductboard-prevents fiber shedding and helps control mold growth. And linoleum helps to control microbial growth because of the ongoing process of linoleic acid oxidation.
  • Products that Remove Indoor Pollutants - Qualifying for inclusion here are certain ventilation products, filters, radon mitigation equipment, and other equipment and devices that help to remove pollutants or introduce fresh air.
  • Products that Warn Occupants of Health Hazards in the Building - Included here are carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, lead paint test kits, and other IAQ test kits.
  • Products that Improve Light Quality - There is a growing body of evidence that natural daylight is beneficial to our health and productivity Products that enable us to bring daylight into a building, including tubular skylights, specialized commercial skylights, and fiber-optic daylighting systems, are considered green.
  • Products that Help Control Noise - Noise, both from indoor and outside sources, adds to stress and discomfort. A wide range of products are available to help absorb noise, prevent it from spreading, masking it, and even reducing it with sound-cancellation technologies.

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