Friday, April 10, 2009

Green Building Materials: How do you Choose?

There are certainly an abundance of green / energy efficient building materials on the market today. How do you determine which one is better than the other? One way is by considering its life cycle: where its raw materials come from, how it is manufactured and what happens during the manufacturing process, and where the product ends up.

These are some things to consider when comparing green products:

Do the raw materials come from:
The earth;
A forest;
Chemicals mixed together

How are they harvested, and do they create waste or harmful material?

After being manufactured, how far does the product travel to get to distribution centers and you, the consumer?

Does the material require sealants, urethane finishes, or adhesives for installation (these usually involve using chemicals)?

Is the material durable and can it be easily repaired if necessary?

Fifty years from now, will the material be:
In the landfill in exactly the same form it was manufactured in;
Recycled into another product or material;
Biodegraded, having been broken down by microorganisms and bacteria

In the future, green building materials will come with labels listing raw materials, the material's contribution toward global warming and ozone depletion, its impact on carbon footprint, health concerns, habitat impact, and other influences on our global environment. In the meantime, you can rely on your green architect to help you choose the building materials that are right for your project, the environment, and your immediate [and future] budget.

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