Posted on 23rd June 2022

Tips for Sourcing Sustainable Building Materials

Floor plans with a model house made of wooden bloacks

Builders are adapting to the sustainable market and supporting eco-consumers. Customers request more eco-friendly materials and construction practices as the climate changes. The construction industry directly impacts the global environment through landfill pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Builders are challenging surface-level and atmospheric pollution by sourcing sustainable building materials. More manufacturers and producers are creating low-impact construction materials to protect the environment. Construction professionals may utilize these materials and create sustainable properties.

 

The Rise of Sustainable Construction

Eco-consumers are influencing the sustainable construction industry. Researchers found nearly 60% of consumers will pay more for eco-friendly goods and services. More individuals also purchase sustainable products over environmentally degrading alternatives.

Construction professionals are meeting eco-consumer demands by sourcing low-impact materials. Government regulations also influence sustainable construction practices.

Construction is one of the largest pollution-producing industries around the world. The industry produces around 39% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually. Some of the emissions come from material manufacturing and transportation. Companies can significantly shrink their carbon footprints by utilizing sustainable building materials.

 

Find a Certified Supplier

Builders can source sustainable building materials by assessing their product certifications. One eco-conscious label is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. The FSC certifies paper and wood products.

One certification specific to building materials comes from GreenGuard. The organization regulates volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other contaminants. Eliminating VOCs from building materials can protect human health and the ecosystem.

VOCs create ground-level ozone when interacting with vehicle emissions. Ozone contributes to smog production, which degrades natural habitats and air quality. Using low- or non-VOC materials can significantly improve a building’s sustainability.

 

Look for Sustainable Characteristics

Construction professionals can also ensure the sustainability of projects by searching for eco-friendly material characteristics. They may look for durable and low-maintenance materials when preparing for projects. The materials will last longer and generate less municipal solid waste (MSW).

They can also search for products made with renewable energy. Building materials manufactured with clean electricity have significantly smaller carbon footprints. Individuals may also search for materials with low-emission delivery services.

For example, some companies are using electric vehicles (EVs) to transport their products. These vehicles release zero tailpipe emissions, which reduces air pollution. Sourcing materials from local manufacturers also minimizes transportation emissions.

Construction materials made from recycled products are more sustainable than new versions. They eliminate resource exploitation and forms of environmental degradation. Individuals can also use materials without contaminants to protect the environment throughout their lifecycles.

 

Use the Life-Cycle Assessment Tool

Builders can also source sustainable materials using the life-cycle assessment tool. The assessment determines products’ environmental impacts based on pre-consumerism, current uses, and post-consumerism. Professionals can conduct material evaluations through the EPD (Environmental Product Declaration) system to ensure peace of mind.

The life-cycle assessment tool evaluates different sections of building material. It explores a product’s overall energy use, from material extraction to landfill processing. The tool also predicts materials’ manufacturing and distribution emissions.

Builders can either request life-cycle assessment results from material manufacturers or conduct their own testing. The results may help individuals determine the environmental impacts of construction projects. They can also use the information to calculate a project’s carbon footprint.

 

Support the Circular Economy

Construction professionals may also source recycled building materials to ensure their sustainability. Repurposed materials have minimal environmental impacts. They eliminate resource exploitation and mining practices.

Concrete is one of the most common building materials on Earth. It also generates nearly 8% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Building professionals are recycling concrete to shrink its colossal carbon footprint.

Recycling centres break down the materials using large-scale impactors, which create dust as a byproduct. They may remove additives and contaminants from the dust before converting it into blocks.

Individuals can also use broken cement to create semi-permeable paving, landscaping features, and wire-gabion walls.

 

The Top Sustainable Materials

Builders may source sustainable materials by increasing their environmental education. They can assess which materials are less impactful in creating sustainable buildings.

One of the most eco-friendly building materials on the market is bamboo. Bamboo grows quickly without pesticides or large quantities of water. Individuals can produce significant amounts of bamboo without exploiting natural resources. It is also stronger than steel, which makes it an effective alternative.

Individuals can also source recycled wood to minimize adverse ecological impacts. Reclaimed wood preserves the atmosphere by limiting deforestation. A single tree can collect and filter roughly 48 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Preserving trees may shrink the global carbon footprint. Using recycled wood in construction also increases a project’s sustainability. Construction professionals can reach out to sustainability educators and expand their green material knowledge.

 

Letting Go of Unsustainable Building Materials

Builders are shrinking their carbon footprints by letting go of unsustainable construction practices. They can identify their main sustainability limitations by conducting an audit. Sustainability audits locate energy loss factors.

Construction professionals can also conduct lifecycle assessments of all materials to determine their sustainability levels. They may identify their least sustainable materials and swap them for eco-friendly alternatives. Builders can also create eco-conscious training programs for their employees to minimize material waste and air pollution over time.

 

By Evelyn Long, Editor-in-Chief of Renovated.