I Love Green

Buying a Green RV

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RV owners are becoming increasingly attuned to environmental considerations. When looking to upgrade and purchase a new motor home or trailer, many RVers are starting to add 'Green' to their list of considerations. But what does it mean to ask for 'Green'? We speak with Mandy Leazenby, TRA Certification's Green Program Manager to better understand the different shades of green.

Green standards are fairly new to the RV industry. It was only in late 2009 that the industry started to adapt and apply the well established consensus standards used in the modular and manufactured housing industries to the realm of recreational vehicles. "This is a good step forward to help consumers identify RVs that are indeed environmentally friendly", says Mandy who is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional.

Similar to the beginning of the organic food trend, suppliers have been known to take a rather liberal interpretation of any concept that has the attention of consumers. "We've seen manufacturers call themselves green because they car pool to work, however that does not make a green company or a green RV", highlights Mandy, "it is important that consumers look for a holistic approach".

This holistic approach to finding a Green RV takes into account five key factors:

  1. Resource efficiency which focuses on types of inputs and how they are sourced. Examples include the use of recycled content, bio based products, certified wood and use of indigenous materials to reduce the impact of transportation of raw materials on the environment.
  2. Energy efficiency of the RV unit. As campgrounds tend to charge a flat fee for hookups, the actual electricity and water consumption is rarely front of mind for most RVers. There is still an impact on the environment and looking for energy efficient appliances like air conditioning, water heating, and having good insulation can make a big difference to the amount of precious energy you consume.
  3. Water efficiency assesses the use of water saving devices, including low flow showerheads and faucets. Water as a natural resource is scarce in certain parts of the country, and being able to regulate and reduce consumption contributes significantly to lessen the load on the environment.
  4. Indoor quality takes into consideration the materials and manufacturing processes used to build the RV. Not only is the use of certain chemicals detrimental to the environment, but it can impact indoor air quality and your health. Look for quality wood, window treatments, flooring, carpet and interiors. Avoiding manufacturing processes that incorporate formaldehydes and minimize your exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  5. Operations and maintenance should also be taken into account. What use is a green RV if you don't know how to take advantage of all these features or maintain your rig so it remains so? Look for manuals that clearly outline green features, instructions for use and upkeep.

In addition to asking smart green questions about your future RV, here are some additional ways to ensure that green is not just a sales pitch but a beneficial choice

  1. Look for reputable independent third party certification. TRA provides an industry certification that incorporates these holistic efficiency factors.
  2. Ensure the way you live in your RV aligns with your green lifestyle principles. For example, if you enjoy the afternoon sea breeze, forget the air conditioning and save precious energy by throwing the doors and windows open. Why not spare the chemical cleaning solvents and use natural cleaning products instead.
  3. Refuse, reuse and recycle still apply on the road, as it does at home. Simple tips like keeping reusable shopping bags will help minimize unnecessary landfill from afternoon grocery shopping trips.
  4. Be aware of your energy and natural resource consumption. That flat fee for full hook ups can lull you into a false sense of economy. You may not be paying for that 1400 BTU air conditioning unit to be left on all day, but the environment (and campground owner) will be.
  5. Reduce the weight of the contents within the vehicle, and where possible the weight of the vehicle itself. This has a positive impact on gas mileage, giving you back real dollars and cents!

Going green must be more than just words and clever marketing directed at RV buyers. It is a conscious lifestyle choice. Therefore, if your values are green, why not ensure that your RV is too.

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