Many of the hardcore eco-aficionados among us may balk at the idea of an eco-friendly garage. Doesn’t having a garage mean having cars? And cars mean environmental damage. How could a garage be eco-friendly?
Well, just like there are eco-friendly cars, there are eco-friendly garages. If you’ve got a hybrid vehicle, why not couple it with a garage that is good for the environment? We’re going to start from scratch with our eco garage.
Building materials in general can do massive harm to the environment. Cement manufacturing is is one of the largest industrial sources of carbon dioxide. And, of course, cement is used is vast quantities in virtually all building projects.
It would be pretty foolhardy to advise you to avoid using cement altogether. For a garage, you absolutely need the strength that cement provides. But it is possible to reduce the amount of cement you are using. You can replace some of the cement with alternative materials, such as slag or fly ash. (That’s ash produced from burning other fuel sources, not burned flies. Fly ash is an interesting material because it is a product of something harmful to the environment but is itself a recyclable material. Paradox!) Try finding some eco-friendly concrete mix yourself, or speaking to a builder about getting such a mix for you.
As for the other aspects of the structure, such as wooden frames, consider looking into local and reclaimed materials. Look on the EPA website for information about reclaimed material facilities near you. They can provide parts of buildings that have torn down. Garages are well-suited for using reclaimed materials because of their smaller size!
Yes, you can even get an eco-friendly garage door. And no, it doesn’t have to be made from grass or bamboo.
As with the above structural features, garage doors can also be made from recycled materials. These will be perfectly strong, so you don’t have to worry about weather damage or aging. What exactly the material is can vary. There are more traditionally eco-friendly materials such a wood. There’s also steel to consider, with its famous strength and longevity being potent plus points in the eco-world.
Another thing to consider is insulation. Eco-friendly garage doors will usually be very good at insulating your garage. As you no doubt are aware, insulation dramatically improves the energy efficiency of your home. Reduced fuel costs and less environmental impact ahoy!
What else can you do? Garages are generally painted quite thoroughly inside and out, so there’s the paint to think about. You know that really heady smell that new paint gives off? The one you can’t stop smelling even though it’s giving you a slight headache? Yeah, that would be the hazardous volatile organic compounds found in many paints. Sadly, they’re very bad for the environment. Use low-VOC or no-VOC paint.
For some less traditional decoration, consider plants. Get some flowers or cacti near the walls, or vines across the roof. That will improve the air quality, keeping oxygen circulating around the room. And they’ll certainly smell nicer than all those chemicals people often keep in the garage in the forms of paint and aerosols. Which, of course, we advise you stay away from.