Our Favorite Eco-Friendly Home Products

The Cliffs Cottage at Furman University is a state-of-the-art house designed and constructed to explore better building practices. Here we share information about some of the eco-friendly products that were used.
Derick Belden

Stone Solution
A stone floor used to have to be installed piece by piece, which took more time and resulted in more waste. However, Real Stone Sys­tems (www.realstone systems.com) has stones that are mounted to a mesh backing and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, saving you money on labor and materials. When building a home, consider installing a stone floor in a sunroom to help hold in heat. Also, deep eaves offer shade from the sun.

Innovative Cabinets
You’re shipping more air than anything else when getting cabinets to a building site. For this reason, we sought a more efficient solution. Maple Hollow Cabinets (www.maplehollowcabinets.com) builds cabinets with renewable lumber to your specifications and then breaks them down for shipping. Find information on more innovative materials by searching the Internet.

Efficient Flush
Toilets expend a great deal of water that can’t be reused. The Aquia® toilet from TOTO (www.totousa.com) offers a dual-flush mechanism with two options: 1.6 gallons per flush and 0.9 gallon per flush. Replace worn-out products in your home with the most efficient ones you can.

Less Runoff
To deal with the drainage issues caused by too much pavement, we used Rainpave Permeable Clay Pavers from Pine Hall Brick (www.pinehallbrick.com or www.americaspremierpaver.com). They look like traditional bricks used for walks, patios, or driveways yet allow water to dissipate into the soil. Plan for more permeable area in your yard to help with flooding, especially during heavy rains.

Water for Free
The Cliffs Cottage features a 12,000-gallon cistern system from Darco (www.darcoinc.com) buried on the right side of the house. All of the downspouts and drain lines connect to the cistern to provide water for the cottage’s organic and ornamental gardens. Try rain barrels. Attach them to downspouts, and then fill up your watering can. Our favorite is the compact English rain barrel from www.gardeners.com.

Visit Us
The Cliffs Cottage at Furman University opened for tours back in June and will remain open through June 14, 2009. So far, we’ve had thousands come see the house for themselves. One of our early visitors said that she couldn’t believe an efficient, sustainable home could be so beautiful. Visit www.furmancliffscottage.com for directions, to schedule a tour, or to download an audio tour. 

"Around Your Home: Favorite Finds" is from the October 2008 issue of Southern Living.