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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    Feature Article

    Prefabricated housing offers several potential environmental benefits, including reduced transportation impacts, reduced waste, and quality control for better durability and performance. Aside from a few industry leaders, however, most manufacturers do not take full advantage of those efficiencies to create affordable high-performance houses.

  • Making Carpet Environmentally Friendly

    Feature Article

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    Feature Article

    Potable water supply piping and drain-waste-vent piping represent a significant fraction of a building's materials. Choosing the greenest pipe for both applications, particularly deciding between metal pipe and plastic alternatives, requires evaluating a variety of environmental and human health impacts as well as durability and performance issues.

  • Bamboo in Construction: Is the Grass Always Greener?

    Feature Article

    An increasingly popular building material, bamboo is celebrated for its quick growth and ability to regenerate after being harvested. But bamboo also has its downsides. In this feature article, EBN examines the pros and cons of building with bamboo.

  • Stone Certification Recognized in LEED v4, Living Buildings

    News Brief

    Natural stone is one of the oldest green building materials, but it’s the newest to have a rigorous multi-attribute certification recognized by USGBC

  • 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.

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    News Brief

    C2C Platinum certification sets a very high bar for sustainability. A decade in, Bark House shingles are the first product to make the grade.

  • 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.

  • CalStar Suspends Fly Ash Brick Production

    News Brief

    CalStar Products, Inc. stopped production of its fly ash brick products on October 1 due to financial difficulties.

  • Wood Structures Could Reduce Global Carbon by Almost a Third

    News Brief

    Using sustainably harvested timber in place of concrete, steel, and brick would have a massive positive impact, a new study asserts.