Reduced Life-Cycle Impacts

Photo: Viridian Reclaimed Wood

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.

Reduced Life-Cycle Impacts

Deep Dives

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  • Reducing Environmental Impacts of Cement and Concrete

    Feature Article

     This article explores the environmental footprint of portland cement production and future emissions regulations and looks at the issues surrounding its most common replacement, fly ash.

  • Prefabricating Green: Building Environmentally Friendly Houses Off Site

    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

    Carpets are the most popular floorcovering in the U.S., but they have also been associated with environmental problems including indoor air emissions and intensive resource use. However, manufacturers have worked to curb their environmental footprints by recycling carpet, examining their life-cycle impacts, and pursuing broad-based certification.

  • Piping in Perspective: Selecting Pipe for Plumbing in Buildings

    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.

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  • Recycled Content in Steel

    Primer

    Steel is made in two different facility types, which have different methods of producing and using recycled content in steel.

  • Using Fly Ash in Concrete

    Primer

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

  • Defining Recycled Content

    Primer

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

Product Guidance

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  • Check if your spelling is correct, or try removing filters.
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