The House That Recycling Built

Judith Mahoney's pledge to recycle more and buy more recycled products has earned her a free house. After entering her pledge into a drawing with 6.2 million other entries, Mahoney was chosen as the most recent winner of the America Recycles Day Green Dream Home.

America Recycles Day Inc. is a Washington, D.C.-based national organization that rewards and promotes recycling initiatives and has raffled off three Green Dream Homes, each valued at approximately $200,000, since its inception in 1997.

Mahoney's home in McCook, Neb., is a 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom home constructed from recycled-content building materials and energy-efficient equipment. Resource-conserving design principles and waste reduction practices were used to make the home a model for green design and construction, according to Kate Krebs, executive director for the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), Washington, D.C.

“The decisions on materials for the house were driven by the design features — the ‘green’ part — and were prioritized based on funds available and materials available,” she says, adding that the building materials contain recycled content, are energy efficient and use fewer resources over time.

For example, “the steel framing is recycled content that has excellent structural integrity,” Krebs says. “The walls, carpets, porch railings, insulation — these are all features that have high recycled content and enhance the look of the house.” The deck was made out of plastic and wood fibers, which extends the deck's lifetime. Materials used to help eliminate poor indoor air quality are also considered green products. The builders used a low-volatile organic compounds (VOC) paint, which doesn't leave fumes in a house after it's painted, explains Steve Andrews, Green Dream House project manager.

The linoleum floor is an organic-based product and is made from clay, resin and flaxseed. It can be composted when it is removed from the house. The insulation also was made from recycled content. “The insulated concrete forms, made out of Styrofoam, were filled with a fly-ash concrete, instead of sand,” Andrews says. Fly ash comes from a local power company's smokestacks. America Recycles Day is celebrated annually on Nov. 15. Activities usually include e-cycling events to collect and recycle old electronic equipment and several recycling art contests. America Recycles Day-sponsored displays also are set up at sporting events and schools throughout the United States.

For more information about America Recycles Day, visit