How to choose sustainable construction materials
In sustainable construction, choosing sustainable materials and products can be challenging. Inferior, traditional building products are chosen based on aesthetics, and value. However, sustainable building products are evaluated in several different aspects in order to determine its level of sustainability.
One must be careful of products and materials that claim they are eco-friendly by placing a small green leaf on their products. Many companies are quick to make sustainable claims about their products because a single aspect about an item may be environmentally friendly. Also, it is important to realize that green, environmentally friendly, products and materials are not always sustainable in practice. This means a material may have eco-friendly properties, but is not durable and will need replaced in a few years after construction. These traps can be avoided before construction by researching products and making appropriate selections in the design process.
The truth is sustainable materials can be more expensive than standard materials, but the cost effectiveness is what makes sustainable materials a better choice. The initial investment in sustainable materials means less maintenance and lower energy costs. These savings over time is what makes the investment worth it.
A product’s health and environmental impact is arguably the biggest factor in selecting sustainable materials. The following are attributes to a product or material’s sustainable properties: Local availability, created from recyclable or easily grown materials, durability, weather resistance, aesthetics, and toxicity. Choosing a product because it excels in one of these categories is a mistake. The product should be well rounded and maintain sustainable qualities in several of these aspects.
Once you have made your sustainable selection, it is important to verify that your contractor is capable of installing the product or working with the material. As sustainable construction is a fairly new industry, many contractors may not have ever used these new innovative products before. If your contractor is inexperienced with a product it is better to find one who is or choose a different product. Taking the chance and having an improper installation can be very costly, especially early in the construction process.