Until we live in houses made of recycled soda bottles, home builders will depend on trees—and a lot of them at that. Erecting a 2,500-square-foot home takes about 60 50-year-old trees, which can exact a heavy environmental toll. Enter the Portland-based Collins Companies. In 2006, they introduced Pine FreeForm, the first FSC-approved particleboard made from 100 percent postindustrial waste, like sawmill shavings and discarded pallets. Pine FreeForm also contains no urea-formaldehyde, the glue that typically holds particleboard together, which has been linked to throat cancer. Not only did the product earn Collins a Top 10 New Green Building Products award at the U.S. Green Building Council’s 2007 conference, but Collins reports that sales are going through the roof. —CDB
One Sign Fits All
A PAPERLESS MORTGAGE. REALLY.
Anyone who’s ever bought a house is familiar with the writer’s cramp that goes along with initialing hundreds of forms, which is why it’s rather surprising that at Rose City Mortgage Specialists you sign on the dotted line only once. That single document authorizes buyers’ signatures to be used on all forms, which are then passed along electronically—an innovation that makes the broker one of the few firms in the city to offer a paperless mortgage. Besides a warm fuzzy feeling, you’ll also get a financial bonus: When Rose City submits a client’s loan to a lender electronically, an eighth of a point is knocked off the interest rate. On a $300,000 home with a 30-year fixed interest rate, that’s about $8,640 saved over the years. But cleaning up paper trails isn’t the only reason Rose City Mortgage has earned the Portland Office of Sustainable Development’s RecycleWorks Award three years running. Rose City also started using a composting bin stocked with worms that chow down on everything from coffee grounds to mysterious leftovers from the fridge. And the 18-person company has swapped out 25 wastebaskets for a single trash receptacle in the kitchen. “Now when someone has to leave their desk to throw something away,” says Rose City president Renee Spears, “they’ll think about that garbage a little more.” —JC