In our modern industrial world, materials are the backbone of economic life. They include resource input as well as the output of products. How we handle them has a major impact on the natural environment, our health, as well as the real economic efficiency. The concept of sustainable or green building integrates and incorporates a variety of strategies during the planning, building, and operation of building projects. The use of green materials represents one vital strategy in the design and construction of a building or structure.
Green materials offer several benefits to the building occupants and building owner. These benefits include:
• Energy conservation
• Reduced replacement and maintenance costs over the life of the building
• Greater design flexibility
• Lower changing space configuration costs
• Improved occupant productivity and health
Definition of Green Building Materials
Green building products and materials are composed of renewable resources. They are environmentally friendly since impacts associated with such materials are considered over the life of the product. An assessment of green building materials may involve an analysis of one or more of the standards listed below:
• Energy efficiency
• Water conservation
• Indoor air quality
• Resource efficiency
Financial and environmental construction costs have been in an upward curve for years, with no end in sight. Using green materials and products is one way to fight this trend. When viewed as a whole, such materials and products offer significant cost savings when compared to traditional building materials. This is true for the following reasons:
• They are often reclaimed or recycled from other construction projects, thereby avoiding initial production costs.
• Green building materials and products are becoming cheaper every day, due to improved fabrication methods and increased production. This is in contrast to the cost of the more traditional materials and products.
• They make it easier to meet building codes and regulations, which are becoming more stringent. This eliminates or reduces costly delays in passing inspections and obtaining permits.
• Many cities and states are offering bonuses and various other incentives to encourage the development of construction projects that incorporate green technology.
Building activities globally consume billions of tons of raw materials each year. Using green materials and products, advances conservation of the rapidly dwindling non–renewable resources. Additionally, incorporating green products and materials into construction projects can help reduce the environmental impact associated with disposal, extraction, processing, transport, fabrication, installation, and recycling of building industry source materials.
Even small changes matter. Homeowners who cannot afford to make huge environmentally friendly changes to their home should understand that the smallest efforts, such as planting trees, can lead to positive impacts over time.