Green Building Materials
Not all natural materials are considered green. Many harmful substances
[formaldehyde, arsenic, and asbestos] are naturally occurring and
have been innocently used in buildings for decades. Studies have
shown that some green materials have substantial emissions whereas
more "traditional" materials, presumed to be more toxic,
were actually lower.
Green Building Materials are considered to be 'green' when they
neither emit toxins and are sourced from sustainable resources.
- Rapidly renewable plant materials - bamboo and straw. Bamboo
can be harvested for commercial use after only 6 years of growth,
and harvested cork oak only removes the outer bark, thus preserving
- Timber - from forests certified to be sustainably managed. Also
any wood removed to clear the site is also processed for use.
- Dimension stone and recycled stone
- Recycled metal
- Other materials that are considered non-toxic, reusable, renewable,
In addition, to minimize the carbon output from transportation
to the site, building materials should be extracted and manufactured
locally. Consideration is also given to the carbon emmissions of
any processing of the materials prior to arrival at the site.
Low Impact Building Materials
Materials considered to have low impact on the environment include:
- Insulation made from low VOC (volatile organic compound)-emitting
materials - recycled wool or denim and cellulose insulation, treated
with boric acid to control pests. Standard building insulation
materials may contain toxic materials such as formaldehyde.
- Organic or milk-based paints
- Architectural salvage and reclaimed materials - demolished wood
is often recycled as flooring.
- Good dimension stone - can be recycled
- Recycled doors, windows, mantels, and hardware.
Next: Green Insulation
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Building Green Index | Carbon
Neutral Homes | Low Allergen Homes |
Remodeling | Materials
| Insulation | Linings
| Glazing | Roofs
| Cladding | Doors
| Flooring | Furnishings
| Paints | Flashings
& Sealants | Heating Systems | Ventilation
| Air Quality | Moisture
Control | Utilities | Landscaping
| Standards & Ratings