Using green building materials and technologies promotes environmental conservation of scarce nonrenewable natural resources. It helps to minimize the adverse environmental effect related to the extraction, transportation, processing, manufacture, fabrication, installations, reuse, and disposal of goods and services. In other words, using green products and technology reduces environmental pollution, while creating a sense of social responsibility as well.
The use of sustainable building materials creates a sense of pride and accomplishment in many individuals. This realization begins with the simple recognition that a building constructed from sustainable products and technologies does not harm the environment in any way. In addition, people become conscious of the services they provide to others. A green building materials company can offer its customers numerous benefits. These benefits include reduced consumption of energy and water, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, reduction in total waste, and reduction in hazardous waste. Moreover, there is a general environmental benefit as buildings constructed from sustainable building materials emit less harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, contribute less to global warming, and use less natural resources and fuels.
There are two broad categories of sustainable building materials used today. One of these categories is “renewable” and the other is “sustainable technology”. Each of these categories has its advantages and disadvantages. Many green building materials can be classified into more than one of these categories.
Renewable Construction Materials
For instance, there are renewable construction materials such as wood. While wood may have some short-term benefits, it is prone to rapid degradation, particularly as a result of insect infestation. Furthermore, wood is vulnerable to fire. As a result, it has been banned in some states as a fire hazard. Unfortunately, few states do not ban wood as an inappropriate construction material.
Sustainable Construction Materials
On the other hand, green building materials that are considered “sustainable” are made from sustainable or renewable plant material like straw, coconut, bamboo, alfalfa, wheat straw, wood waste, fruit fibers, recycled cardboard, linoleum (for flooring), and so on. In most cases, a material is considered “sustainable” if it has economic viability as a long-term construction material or it has substantial environmental benefits over and beyond its initial use in the construction process. For example, a product considered sustainable that is still being used as household furniture would continue to have economic viability long after its original use in house building or house filling. Likewise, a product that is still being heavily manufactured and re-used would also continue to have economic viability long after its original use.
Straw bales, alfalfa straw, wood waste, and other naturally occurring products are some examples of sustainable material. The term “sustainable” can be applied to materials such as bamboo, which is not currently exploited for anything and has tremendous potential as an agricultural product for local food markets and other forms of external food production. Straw is a high-quality, highly sustainable product that can be used for things like insulation, roofing, flooring, furniture, and so on. On the other hand, bamboo and alfalfa are both highly productive sources of fiber and are considered to be among the most ecologically responsible types of materials around. So, while straw, alfalfa, and other sustainable materials like coconut are readily available for home building and home filling, they require less energy to produce and require less water to clean up than non-sustainable building materials like wood.
However, green building materials also require recycling to reduce their environmental impact. The more recycled a product is, the less it will cost to produce, which is another important part of reducing the overall impact of any project. As an example, many building products, including plywood, drywall, windows, doors, and window frames, should be replaced with highly recycled products like corrugated Metal and Engineered Wood (Eh), which are just as safe for the environment as hardwoods but far more cost-effective. Besides reducing the total amount of waste and pollution produced, recycled materials also have the advantage that they cannot be used as raw material for new construction or remodeling projects.
Another aspect of using sustainable building products is the use of recycled or salvaged materials for flooring, walls, cladding, paint, insulation, window sills, and doors. These materials are all cheaper than the alternative materials, which means that the buildings have a lower cost of ownership as well. In addition, the buildings are safer because they contain fewer health hazards. Even though the buildings may cost less to build, there is an added benefit in that the buildings will be healthier, which can help to protect the general health and welfare of everyone within the community. Additionally, the fewer toxic emissions and toxins that are released into the air improve the air quality of the entire community and reduce exposure to health risks.