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Yes, Even a Garage Door can be "Green" - Editorial Backgrounder

Homeowners looking for ways to make their house “green” can start by taking stock in an unlikely home commodity - the garage door. As the largest moving part on a home, the garage door plays an important role in maintaining its structural integrity and energy efficiency – two important criteria in green building design.
Long-Lasting Products, Fewer Replacements
Sustainability is a key element of green building, and, with a life cycle of between 15 - 20 years, an investment in a durable garage door that can withstand the rigors of daily use is money well spent for a home and the environment.
“Long-lasting products significantly reduce the impact of manufacturing and building on the environment, as well as fuel costs associated with distribution, and general waste,” says Pat Lohse, vice president of marketing for garage door manufacturer Clopay Building Products.

Some characteristics to look for when shopping for a door that’s built to last are galvanized torsion springs, which look better and last 50% longer than the industry’s standard oil-tempered springs, heavy-gauge steel to ensure a quality appearance, dent resistance and quiet operation, a hot dipped galvanized coating topped with a baked-on paint finish that resists fading and peeling, insulation that is contoured and bonded on both sides of the door panel for improved dent resistance, strength and R-value.
Steel and composite carriage house doors are an increasingly popular alternative to traditional wood doors because they are low maintenance, insulated and won’t fade, rot, warp or crack, meaning they won’t need to be refurbished or replaced as frequently as a doors constructed from natural material.
Protecting and Preserving the Homes We Build
Sustainability takes on an increased level of importance in coastal areas and other regions susceptible to high winds because the garage door can literally preserve a home’s structural integrity during a storm or hurricane.
“Because of their size, garage doors are more susceptible to wind damage than other exterior openings – especially two-car garage doors. Unless you have a tested, reinforced door installed, high winds can force it out of the opening and put your home and property at risk,” says Lohse.
The loss of a garage door during a hurricane can cause an uncontrolled buildup of internal pressure resulting in a blowout of the roof and supporting walls. This was an unfortunate lesson learned in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew blasted through South Florida with 145-mph winds, destroying 126,000 homes, and leaving 180,000 people homeless. With a $30 billion damage toll, it remains one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history. The storm changed everything, including building construction codes.
According to a report issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Building Performance related to Hurricane Andrew, the failure of garage doors caused significant damage to homes and buildings.
With the institution of the International Building Code, garage doors in designated areas are now required to have additional bracing, heavier gauge tracking and other necessary hardware to help keep them in place under extreme winds.
The more stringent building codes were put to the test during record-breaking 2004 2005 hurricane seasons. Houses that conformed were better able to withstand the onslaught of back-to- back storms, while many that had garage doors installed before the revised code took effect suffered significant damage, or the doors were blown out completely.
“It is a lot more economical and environmentally responsible to invest in securing a home in advance than it is to rebuild after a total loss,” adds Lohse.
Energy Efficiency
An insulated garage door can reduce overall household energy consumption if the garage is attached to the home since living space is usually adjacent or above. 
It has such a significant impact that the Internal Revenue Service has declared certain  models eligible for an energy savings tax credit under the Energy Tax Incentives Act  provided the door meets specific criteria, and was installed in an existing home from January 1, 2006 to December, 31, 2007. The maximum credit is $500 for materials only. Homeowners should contact their installing dealer to obtain a manufacturer’s certification if their garage door qualifies.

Clopay Building Products premium series three-layer “sandwich” doors, featuring a layer of environmentally safe, CFC-free, expanded polystyrene insulation bonded between two layers of durable 24-gauge steel are among the approved models that qualify for the tax credit.
This construction method also helps reduce noise and minimize unsightly dents and dings, one of the main reasons why homeowners choose to replace a door before it reaches its maximum life expectancy.
Tips for Choosing a Green Garage Door
Can a garage door be green? Yes, but homeowners have to do their part by choosing a model that supports green building principles.  Here’s how:
1. Choose a low-maintenance insulated steel or steel and composite door. Purchase a qualified energy efficient model from a certified manufacturer before the end of 2007 and you could be eligible for an Energy Savings tax credit. If wood is a must-have for aesthetic purposes on a home exterior, choose a manufacturer that uses naturally fallen materials or those harvested from sustainable forests.
2. Support manufacturers who utilize recycled materials and are environmentally conscious in their manufacturing and distribution processes. For instance, find out if they use recycled materials, fuel efficient transport vehicles, or have a program in place to help reduce waste of disposable goods.
3. In coastal areas or regions where high winds are common the garage door is a critical element in keeping a home in tact during a storm. Investigate local building requirements and invest in a reinforced door that meets them – if you haven’t