Q I'm a contractor working with a designer on a project, and she is very excited about us offering the homeowner the option of an "eco," instead of a conventional, bathroom. I'm new to all this eco thinking for bathrooms. Can you explain to me in plain English some basic components used in eco bathrooms?
A An eco bathroom incorporates as much natural and recycled material as possible, and uses efficient plumbing, lighting, heating and cooling equipment. Here are a few eco-friendly ideas and tips that can be used to create an eco bathroom:
Vanities and countertops: Natural stone is a great choice for vanity tops, along with manmade countertops that use recycled materials. For vanities, natural moisture-resistant products such as teak are becoming a popular choice.
Wall tiles: Natural-stone tiles and recycled-glass tiles work well. Also, fired-clay tiles that incorporate recycled material and lead-free glazes are commonly used.
Flooring: Once again, natural-stone tiles are in high demand. Environmentally friendly and energy-efficient, lightweight concrete flooring also can be a good choice for bathrooms with radiant-floor heating.
Plumbing fixtures: Cast-iron tubs and sinks are back in style since they are made from about 90 percent recycled materials. High-efficiency toilets and showerheads are flying off the shelves, since new flushing systems and pressure-delivery designs allow for top performance while using less water.
Lighting fixtures: Wide choices in decorative fixtures that use less energy than standard lighting fixtures have made it easy to conserve electricity in the bathroom. Also, installing skylights and making the best use of natural sunlight are considered very eco-friendly.
Eco-packing: Using companies that ship products from the factory with recycled and/or recyclable materials in the packing makes trash disposal easier on the local community.
Master contractor/plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of the book "Ed Del Grande's House Call" and hosts TV shows on Scripps Networks and HGTVPro.com.