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Background of reclaimed timber for a modern rustic look

Over the past couple of decades, there’s been a major push for builders and construction companies to begin “thinking green” about their business. The concept of using environmentally friendly building materials and practices has become a priority for the building and construction industry, as many of the current mainstream methods are largely unsustainable due to excessive carbon emissions and poor energy conservation.

Simply put, using sustainable building materials makes common sense, because not only is it good for the planet, but it’s also a great way to save your clients money over the long haul. Below are some key points regarding sustainable building materials, as well as how these exciting new developments are changing the construction game.

First Things First: What Exactly Are Sustainable Building Materials?

Sustainable building materials (a.k.a. “green materials”) are comprised of renewable resources, as opposed to those that are non-renewable. Some of the key characteristics that define sustainability include:

  1. Renewability – Sustainable materials can be reused or recycled once they’ve reached at end of their useful life. So instead of taking a linear approach to resource usage–e.g., extract, use, and throw away–renewability allows for a closed-loop process, where materials are reused and recycled again and again, as many times as possible.
  2. Energy Efficiency – Sustainable materials reduce energy consumption in various buildings and facilities. It should also be noted that this applies to building products that are manufactured using energy efficient processes and materials.
  3. Cost-Effectiveness – Sustainable building materials allow builders and contractors to reduce maintenance and replacement costs over the life of the structure.
  4. Improved Health for Occupants – Many unsustainable materials emit what are known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which have been shown to have detrimental effects on occupants’ health. A classic example is the use of asbestos in older buildings, a material which was later found to cause cancer in humans. Sustainable materials help improve indoor air quality by emitting very little to no VOCs.

Examples of Sustainable Building Materials

  • Bamboo flooring
  • Cork flooring
  • Reclaimed wood
  • Homasote fiberboard (insulation made from recycled newsprint)
  • Salvaged construction materials (tile, brick, steel, etc.)
  • Triple-glazed windows (three layers of glass)
  • Roof shingles made of recycled rubber and/or plastic
  • Low-flow shower heads
  • Low-VOC paints
  • Solar panels

The Impact of Sustainable Building Materials on the Construction Industry

According to the Worldwatch Institute, the construction industry consumes roughly 3 billion tons of raw materials every year, representing nearly 40% of global raw material usage. Concrete alone accounts for anywhere between 7 to 10 percent of global CO2 emissions! As the push for sustainability continues to intensify, it’s highly likely that more regulations will be introduced over time to ensure that eco-friendly building materials and practices are being utilized in construction projects. Builders and contractors may also see an increase in the cost of supplies, as green building materials tend to be more expensive than their traditional counterparts. The trade-off is that these materials produce a final product that’s highly energy efficient and very cost-effective for the homeowner over the long haul.

These changes can be difficult to navigate, which is why it’s a good idea to have the expertise of an experienced building materials supplier such as Nisbet Brower on your side. Founded in 1870 and based in Cincinnati and Centerville, OH, Nisbet Brower maintains a close pulse on the many developments taking place in the building and construction industry, and can help builders and contractors balance out the responsibilities of keeping a project eco-friendly while reigning in costs at the same time. With the helpful advice and guidance of Nisbet Brower, you can deliver sustainable building projects to your clients that will not only be environmentally friendly, but will fully reflect your standard of excellence.