5 traditional building products boast eco-friendly qualities
A solar-powered motor was presented to Napoleon III by a French mathematician in 1865; and as far as low-flow toilets go—remember the outhouse? Well, at least you've heard of one. Here's a look at some other old-timey technologies and materials still used today that have always been green:
Terra-cotta: Its "baked earth" translation might prompt Al Gore to film an inconvenient sequel, but as yet the fired clay hasn't been blamed for global warming. Made from water, clay, and previously fired clay bits, the roof and floor material dates to 10,000 BC.
Milk Paint: This no-VOC finish, formulated from milk, lime, and natural pigments, has been found in 3,000-year-old caves. It's gaining favor today because it doesn't emit noxious fumes when drying.
Masonite Hardboard: Invented in 1924 by William H. Mason, the masonite process involves grinding wood, then using its own lignin—a natural binder—to cement the wood fibers back together. No formaldehyde binders means no offgassing.
Mineral Wool: Before the pink fiberglass stuff rolled onto the market, mineral wool, or rock wool as it's also called, was the insulation of choice. It's made with 75 percent post-industrial recycled content, namely slag wool, the stuff that forms on the surface of molten steel during production.
Homasote Fiberboard: Made from 100 percent recycled paper since 1916, Homasote was used to construct Army field hospitals during WW I. It's now a popular carpet underlayment. It's also formaldehyde free.