Building Life Cycle & Material selection (Part 3 of 3)
‘Green’ materials to consider:
- Low Maintenance exterior finishes – composite decking, railings and siding. Trex, prairie fence, hardie board and teak to name a few.
- Low or Zero VOC paints and stains
- Reclaimed and/or refinished materials – int. doors, flooring, T&G for clg. & soffits. Powder coated rebar spindles for railings.
- Tile with recycled content… Slate is an obvious choice, but they are now producing porcelain, glass, and ceramic tiles with high recycled content. Make sure you look for post consumer not post industrial recycled content.
- Use FSC, CSI or CSA certified woods (Canadian Standards Association) (Sustainable Forestry Initiative)
- Wool carpet
- Natural stone (not cultured)
- Tile with recycled content
- Recycled glass products
- Green Roofs and walls
- Locally produced or harvested products – Keep in mind the transportation component of a product’s environmental profile may be quite small. Other inputs – such as the amount of energy needed to manufacture the product or pollution caused by manufacturing – typically have a far larger impact. If we emphasize the purchase of local materials, we are only looking at those small “transportation” effects and ignoring the bigger slices of the pie.
- Alternate roofing products (recycled polymers or HDPE or at the very least an asphalt shingle with a longer lifespan)
- Products composed of rapidly renewable resources – cork, bamboo, coco, wheat.
- Wool or Cotton Fiber Insulation
- Products composed of rapidly renewable resources
- Cement with high fly ash content
- High fly ash concrete – increased durability and hardness or PSI, but costs more and takes longer to cure.
- Natural wood products
- There are new products coming out all the time, for example, Certainteed has a new drywall ‘air renew’ which they claim will absorb and convert VOC’s into safe inert compounds for up to 75 years.
- But be careful and don’t buy into everything you here, there is a lot of green washing out there
Watching out for ‘Green’ Washing
- Sin of Hidden trade-off – suggesting a product is green based on a narrow set of attributes without attention to other environmental issues.For example, FSC certified paper and flooring may not be preferable if the manufacturing and shipping process has a more significant impact, including energy, greenhouse gas emissions and water and air pollution.
- Sin of no proof – claims that can not be substantiated by supporting materialCommon examples are products that claim various percentages of post consumer recycled content without providing any evidence.
- Sin of vagueness – a claim that is so poorly defined or broad that its real meaning is likely misconstrued‘All natural’ is an example. Arsenic, uranium, mercury and formaldehyde are all naturally occurring and poisonous.
- Sin of irrelevance – a claim that may be true but is unimportant or unhelpful for consumers.
‘CFC free’ is an example of a frequent claim, despite the fact that CFC’s are banned by law.
- Sin of lesser of two evils – Claims that may be true within the product category, but risk distracting from the greater environmental impactsFuel efficient sport utility vehicles are a great example.
- Sin of Fibbing – making environmental claims that are simply false