The concept of sustainable building incorporates and integrates a variety of strategies during the design, construction and operation of building projects. The use of green building materials and products represents one important strategy in the process of a green restoration after a home or business has sustained damage.
Green building materials offer specific benefits to the building owner and building occupants:
Reduced maintenance/replacement costs over the life of the building.
Improved occupant health and productivity.
Lower costs associated with changing space configurations.
Greater design flexibility.
Building and construction activities worldwide consume 3 billion tons of raw materials each year or 40 percent of total global use (Roodman and Lenssen, 1995). Using green building materials and products promotes conservation of dwindling nonrenewable resources internationally. In addition, integrating green building materials into building projects can help reduce the environmental impacts associated with the extraction, transport, processing, fabrication, installation, reuse, recycling, and disposal of these building industry source materials.
What is a green building product or material?
Green building materials are composed of renewable, rather than nonrenewable resources.
Overall material/product selection criteria:
Indoor air quality
Resource Efficiency can be accomplished by utilizing materials that meet the following criteria:
Recycled Content: Products with identifiable recycled content, including postindustrial content with a preference for postconsumer content.
Natural, plentiful or renewable: Materials harvested from sustainably managed sources and preferably have an independent certification (e.g., certified wood) and are certified by an independent third party.
Resource efficient manufacturing process: Products manufactured with resource-efficient processes including reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste (recycled, recyclable and or source reduced product packaging), and reducing greenhouse gases.
Locally available: Building materials, components, and systems found locally or regionally saving energy and resources in transportation to the project site.
Salvaged, refurbished, or remanufactured: Includes saving a material from disposal and renovating, repairing, restoring, or generally improving the appearance, performance, quality, functionality, or value of a product.
Reusable or recyclable: Select materials that can be easily dismantled and reused or recycled at the end of their useful life.
Recycled or recyclable product packaging: Products enclosed in recycled content or recyclable packaging.
Durable: Materials that are longer lasting or are comparable to conventional products with long life expectancies.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is enhanced by utilizing materials that meet the following criteria:
Low or non-toxic: Materials that emit few or no carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, or irritants as demonstrated by the manufacturer through appropriate testing.
Minimal chemical emissions: Products that have minimal emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Products that also maximize resource and energy efficiency while reducing chemical emissions.
Low-VOC assembly: Materials installed with minimal VOC-producing compounds, or no-VOC mechanical attachment methods and minimal hazards.
Moisture resistant: Products and systems that resist moisture or inhibit the growth of biological contaminants in buildings.
Healthfully maintained: Materials, components, and systems that require only simple, non-toxic, or low-VOC methods of cleaning.
Systems or equipment: Products that promote healthy IAQ by identifying indoor air pollutants or enhancing the air quality.
Energy Efficiency can be maximized by utilizing materials and systems that meet the following criteria:
Materials, components, and systems that help reduce energy consumption in buildings and facilities.
Water Conservation can be obtained by utilizing materials and systems that meet the following criteria:
Products and systems that help reduce water consumption in buildings and conserve water in landscaped areas.
Affordability can be considered when building product life-cycle costs are comparable to conventional materials or as a whole, are within a project-defined percentage of the overall budget.