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.

  • CAFboard Compressed-Straw Panel Is Back

    Product Review

    Using American-made waste straw for wallboard, insulation, and acoustic applications, Stramit USA has brought back CAFboard.

  • The Many Faces of Reclaimed Wood


    Some types of reclaimed wood count as "salvaged materials" that contribute to points in LEED and help comply with green building codes while others do not.

  • Porous Plus: Eco-Tek Pavers Include Regional Slag

    Product Review

    Eco-Tek porous pavers offer recycled and regional content in addition to stormwater management.

  • Knoll, Steelcase in Lead with Level 3 Certified Products

    Product Review

    Two years after the "level" furniture certification program was developed by BIFMA, six products and products lines meet the most rigorous of the certifications-level 3.

  • Sansin and Vermont Natural Coatings Debut Low-VOC Stains

    Product Review

    Two new low-VOC interior stain systems were recently released: Vermont Natural Coatings' zero-VOC Woodtone Series Concentrated Tints and Sansin's Purity Interior 0-VOC Stain. Both systems offer a competitive option over higher VOC choices.

  • Chromium-6: Health and Life-Cycle Hazards


    Chrome-plated and stainless-steel products may not expose us directly to the hazards of hexavalent chromium, but their life cycle releases it into the environment.

  • Earthstone's Affordable, Recycled Granite Pavers

    Product Review

    Earthstone Products manufactures exterior granite pavers and interior granite floor tiles from recycled countertop scrap.

  • Recycled Content in Steel


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

  • Lego Blocks from Straw

    Product Review

    While still under development, Oryzatech's Stak Block rice-straw, interlocking, highly insulating building block is an exciting product that could revolutionize the use of straw as a building material.

  • Building a Better Building Block-Pozzotive Plus

    Product Review

    Kingston Block & Masonry Supply has introduced a line of CMUs and concrete facing brick made with a post-consumer-recycled-glass pozzolan substituting for 30% of the portland cement as well as about 50% post-consumer recycled aggregate.