Build green but build dry: tips to discourage mold

With schools opening up again for the school year, one of the uninvited inhabitants found in abundance this season in classrooms throughout the country is mold. A wet summer in several areas has contributed to the problem, and a quick search on the Internet found opening delays at schools in Iowa, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as cleaning crews moved in to scrub from top to bottom to kill the toxic fungus.

Although this may be a par†icuarly troublesome year, it is not by accident that September is Mold Awareness Month, a month when buildings closed during the hot, sticky summer months are again open to occupation.

In honor of Mold Awareness Month, the Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition, wants to remind builders, homeowners and contractors that “Building Green Means Building Dry”. The RSMC is a consortium of building material companies and associations, academic and government organizations supporting green, moisture-free, mold-free building practices.

“It’s fair to say that “Green Building” is the dominant trend in construction today—as builders strive to utilize recycled materials, or materials that are low in embedded energy or are low in energy usage,” said Mike Poellinger, chairman of the Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition. “Both are important goals, but they must be pursued in a way that allows buildings to manage and repel moisture. Energy-efficient buildings can often trap unwanted moisture—or buildings that feature renewable building materials such as bamboo flooring, for example, may not prove to be highly durable, thereby defeating a key goal of the green building movement: sustainability.”
 
So how do you build green, but build dry? According to The Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition, building green homes means designing, building and maintaining them in a way that keeps moisture at bay. Because a damp building not only deteriorates more quickly, it can also create an unhealthy environment that becomes moldy and attracts insects and other vermin.
 
Here are some helpful hints to make sure buildings stay dry:

  • Avoid complex roof designs that trap rainwater in valleys that do not drain.
  • Never install wet building materials—they should be protected from the elements before installation.
  • Flashings must be installed around all doors, windows and chimneys—driving moisture outside of the building.
  • Only install drywall once the home has been closed in—and give joint compound enough time to dry before it is painted or covered.
  • Be sure there is adequate ventilation—energy efficient homes and buildings can often trap moisture leading to mold.
  • Bamboo flooring is a common choice today because it’s abundant and renewable, but not highly durable. Ceramic tile, for example, will be a much more durable choice, and therefore more “Green.”
  • Select the right type of wallboard for high-moisture rooms like kitchens and baths. Generally, cement board or combination fiberglass/cement boards are best for applying ceramic tile because tile grout will allow water intrusion, leading to mold.

The Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition comprises 14 companies, associations, government and academic organizations that are dedicated to identifying and communicating accurate, science-based information on mold prevention and control. It is the intention of the organization to provide useful, easily accessible information to everyone with an interest in the subject for both new and existing buildings and homes. RSMC is funded by grants from USG Corporation, National Gypsum and American Gypsum.
 
For more information on these and other mold-resistant building tips, please visit: www.responsiblemoldsolutions.org.

Also, a copy of a free brochure on mold-fighting tips is available by e-mailing: info@responsiblemoldsolutions.org.

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