"We come from a philosophical view that global warming is the real deal, and we all need to take steps to reverse the course we're on," says Tom Kelly of Neil Kelly Construction in Portland, Ore. "The construction industry, short of the energy industry, is the best business in the world to have an impact on that."
At Neil Kelly Construction, green remodeling starts with designers planning sustainable, green spaces. Then, once it begins a project, the company opts to use green materials--for example, FSC-certified wood, low-VOC paints, and formaldehyde-free cabinets, which they manufacture themselves.
It's not just a matter of saving the planet, Kelly says, it's a matter of saving our own health. "I believe that 20 years from now, we'll look back and say that the history of construction in this country was like that of smoking," he says. "Formaldehyde is recognized as a human carcinogen, yet we're putting it in houses every day."
Kelly is referring to the risks posed by poor indoor air quality resulting from VOCs in paint, and from off-gassing of formaldehyde in cabinetry, pressed-wood products, glues, and adhesives. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says indoor air pollutant levels can be up to 100 times higher than outdoor levels. A.B.