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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    Fly ash lowers the environmental footprint of concrete and improves durability. Pouring and curing concrete with high levels of fly ash requires special treatment.

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    Accepted definitions bring some clarity to the term "recycled content," but still leave gray areas that are open to interpretation by product manufacturers.