Planning for Greener Use of 4 Common Construction Materials

Whether you are building a LEED-platinum certified condominium downtown or a cozy eco-conscious vacation getaway in the country, it’s a good idea to plan the greenest materials usage possible when building your project. More and more clients demand green building in their new projects, because eco-consciousness adds marketing cache and resale value to homes.

As it turns out, some planning of how you will use and dispose of how common, everyday, not-especially-green materials during the building process can really bump up your green building credibility come certification time.

Concrete: One of the most energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly and adaptable building materials is concrete. Although concrete is usually consigned to foundations, driveways, and sidewalks, larger numbers of homeowners are looking into poured concrete construction. Innovative outdoors use of concrete is popping up in terraced landscaping and fencing, but concrete is making major strides as a flooring material. Custom-poured concrete countertops are becoming quite popular as well. Concrete is impervious to climate and pests, and it weathers natural disasters quite gracefully. Maximize your green quotient by using energy-efficient, non-toxic autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) or concrete made with recycled content.

Wood: Another ubiquitous construction material, wood is a multi-purpose material that has also been used in home building for centuries. Softwood trees such as pine and hardwood trees such as maple will often be found in new homes as paneling, sheathing, veneer, siding, subflooring, and framing or for decorative trim, molding, and cabinets. Wood is a renewable resource, but some providers grow, manage, and harvest their wood in a more sustainable fashion than others. To use the most eco-conscious wood possible, look for a provider that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Brick and Stone: These materials are perennial favorites for flooring and facades. While the fine detail of clay brick and the natural beauty of stone add much to a home’s curb appeal, both materials are problematic for eco-conscious construction. Bricks have been made and used for millennia, but modern brick manufacture consumes massive amounts of non-renewable resources and generates a significant carbon pollution footprint. Stone is a more natural material that has a lower carbon footrpint, but it is classified as a non-renewable resource. The good news is that because of their durability and strength, both brick and stone are easy to salvage and repurpose. The Restoration Trades Directory can help you locate brick and stone salvage providers in your area. You can also look through your city’s demolition permits to find brick and stone structures that are slated for demolition.


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