Published on November 22nd, 2010 | by Chris Keenan3
Two Steps Towards A VOC Free, Green Nursery
My wife and I are expecting our first child in March. As new parents-to-be we are beyond excited. But we’re also nervous. We want to make sure we bring our child into a clean and safe environment, one free of toxins and pollutants. So we’ve set to work on making the baby’s room an eco and pollutant free nursery. Whether you are expecting or just want to make your rooms a little more green, there are two big things you want to keep in mind: Carpeting & Paint.
Aside from furniture, carpeting and paint make up the majority of the room. When considering what to put on our walls and floors we had one main requirement: as toxic free as possible. While lead paint isn’t sold anymore, there are still plenty of things in our paint and carpets that can harm a sensitive person; be they a newborn or a child or adult with asthma.
Carpets emit VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) and can trap dirt and dust. But if you are like us and would still like to get that warmth and coziness that a wall to wall carpet offers, there are options. Not all carpet fibers are created equal, and some off gas – release the VOC’s – less than others. Look for the Carpet and Rug Institutes (CRI) “Green Label Plus” stamp. It will be on the back of your carpet samples and will indicate that particular carpet has low VOC’s.
The CRI’s Green Label Plus exceeds the green building requirements of California, a state with notoriously strict requirements. So getting a carpet with this labeling will go a long way in assuring us that what we are installing in our baby’s room is safe. But we are still concerned about dust and dirt getting trapped in the carpet weaves, too deep for a vacuum to suck out. To address this, we’ll be selecting a Green Label Plus carpet that has a dense, tight weave.
A main component of paints are VOC’s. These were added because they were needed to make the paint work, to stick to the walls. But some people, particularly those with asthma or other sensitivities, can be bothered by them.
Today, many experts say that VOC’s are not as necessary as once thought in paint production. And while VOC’s are still standard in paint, these days manufacturers are offering low VOC options. These paints still have that rich color pigmentation we want, with the durability we need, while coming in lower on the VOC count. While we could go with a completely VOC free paint (that’s another post entirely) we like the convenience, options, and lower price that regular, low VOC paint offer.
Just as with carpeting, it is best to check the labels on the paint can to ensure that it is low VOC . Sherwin Williams has a Harmony line of low VOC paints, for example, though there are many more on the market. Just ask the clerk in the store to show you their eco friendly paints.
There is still a lot of work for us to do in the nursery, including updating the soho fashion style curtains moving out the (mostly unused) exercise equipment. It’s funny, the elliptical reviews I read joked I would get more exercise moving things than actually working out. But we don’t mind. Making a green, non toxic room is more important. And with our low VOC carpet and paint now selected, it’s on to other parents-to-be worries!« USGBC Leadership Award Winners Greenbuild 2010 Ends With ‘What’s Next?’ »