Reduced Life-Cycle Impacts

Photo: Viridian Reclaimed Wood

OVERVIEW

Is wood a sustainable material? It depends: a table made from reclaimed wood has a much smaller environmental footprint than one sourced from a monoculture plantation that replaced a rainforest.

Defining responsible material sourcing—and then finding responsibly sourced products—is complicated. Here you will find in-depth resources that detail the benefits and challenges of using biobased materials, reclaimed wood, fly ash, and other materials. Our resources also detail which companies and industries are ahead of the curve in offering responsible choices.

What about the materials you don’t use? Using less is always a good idea—as long as that doesn’t compromise performance.

Doing more with less takes knowledge and attention: it’s about investing in human resources instead of wasting natural resources. And since our small planet has more humans every day, we’re not likely to run out of them anytime soon. Durability, efficient structural systems, and repairing and retrofitting rather than replacing are all key strategies to consider.

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  • Reality Check for LEED v4 Product Credits

    News Analysis

    The three “Disclosure and Optimization” or “BPDO” credits in LEED v4 include both some pretty easy points and points that are not yet achievable.

  • Building Product Disclosure & Optimization (BPDO) Cheat Sheet

    Infographic

    The three Building Product Disclosure and Optimization (BPDO) credits in LEED v4 are pushing the industry into new territory. USGBC has done a great job defining and spurring manufacturers to support some options, but others are not yet (as of mid-2017) achievable, for a range of reasons. So go after the easy ones, and don’t waste time on others until they’re within reach.

  • Sand, a Surprisingly Limited Resource

    Primer

    Demand for the basic raw material for glass and concrete is prompting illegal mining that’s leaving beaches and riverbeds bare. 

  • Building Products Matter Even More Than We Thought

    Op-Ed

    Operational energy use is critical, but materials might be an even bigger part of the solution to climate change and other pressing environmental issues.

  • Legal Wood in LEED Barks Up Wrong Tree, Say NGOs

    News Analysis

    A pilot credit to address illegal logging has been criticized by advocacy groups like the Sierra Club. They’ve offered USGBC their own ideas.  

  • What These Forestry Labels Really Mean

    Infographic

    You’ve seen FSC and SFI labels on wood products. Most often, you’ve seen no label at all. Here’s a green guide to each one.

  • FSC, LEED, and the Price of Perfectionism

    Op-Ed

    A hard line against industry-sponsored alternatives to FSC certification in the past may have unfortunate outcomes for the world’s forests.

  • LEED Pilots Legal Wood, Expansion of Certified Wood

    News Analysis

    A pilot credit calls attention to illegal logging while also opening LEED to SFI and other certifications.

  • The 12 Product Rules

    Infographic

    These 12 product rules provide a simple approach to selecting better, healthier, and more environmentally responsible building products and materials.

  • Getting “Conflict Minerals” Out of Our Products

    Primer

    While “blood diamonds” get attention, mining of metals like tin and tungsten helps finance civil wars. Here’s a look at the movement to change that.