Selecting Building Materials: Environmental Impact
There are many factors to consider when choosing a building or decorating material. Various building materials impact the environment differently. Wood products are often overlooked as green products when in fact, most hardwood and softwood building materials are carbon neutral or carbon negative making them sustainable green building materials.
What Questions Should I Ask When Selecting Building Materials?
Deciding the best building materials for a project means asking many different questions about them:
- Is the material natural or man-made?
- Is it a healthy material?
- Does it require a lot of processing?
- How much of the material is utilized?
- How does importing products impact the environment?
- Are harmful chemicals needed for manufacturing and on-going maintenance?
- What maintenance and repair costs are associated with the material?
- What is the useful life of the material?
- Can the material be recycled or repurposed?
- What happens to the material after its useful life?
Learn more about these questions:
Selecting Materials Impacts Lives
- Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for Softwood Lumber. May 2013. Report by the American Wood Council and Canadian Wood Council. Research conducted by Underwriters Laboratory Environment (ULE) using the global standard for EPD evaluation, ISO 14025.
- Science Supporting the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Using Wood and Wood Products in Green Building Construction. September 2011. By Michael A. Ritter, Kenneth Skog, and Richard Bergman, USDA Forest Service
- Wood Products and Carbon Protocols: Carbon Storage and Low Energy Intensity Should Be Considered. April 2008. By Dr. Bowyer, with Dr. Steve Bratkovich, Alison Lindberg, and Kathryn Fernholz (Dovetail Partners Inc.)
- The State of America’s Forests. 2007. Society of American Foresters
OTHER GREAT RESOURCES:
Environmental Profile of Wood
United States government recognizes American Hardwoods as “green” and sustainable.
Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for Wood
A guide to American softwood species: