Measuring the environmental footprint of wood, concrete and steel is a big factor in designing sustainable buildings.
Use the following learning objectives to focus your study while reading this month’s Continuing Education article.
Learning Objectives - After reading this article, you will be able to:
- Discuss the life cycle costs of wood, concrete and steel
- Explain recyclability vs. renewability for each material
- Describe responsible procurement
- Explain the advances each industry is making toward sustainability
Credits: 1.00 HSW/SD
This course was approved by the GBCI for 1 GBCI CE hour(s) for LEED Credential Maintenance.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings account for 38 percent of total U.S. energy consumption and 38 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions-statistics that have prompted the architecture and construction industries to search for ways to lower the environmental footprint of tomorrow's structures. The search is particularly pressing in view of the projection that the commercial building sector carbon dioxide emissions will grow faster than any other sector, averaging 1.8 percent a year through 2030. A complex problem, to be sure, but one with a relatively straightforward answer-stop burning fossil fuels, which emit the greenhouse gases (GHG) that fuel global warming. Reducing GHG emissions involves selecting materials with low embodied energy and emissions and high recyclability. But against a backdrop of competing claims it can be difficult to determine which materials truly stand out in these areas.
In terms of green building materials, wood remains a top choice. International scientific studies have shown time and again that using wood products from sustainably managed forests rather than non-wood building products, results in a reduction of GHG emissions. This article will address through research and facts, the overt differences between three common building materials-wood, steel and concrete-in terms of their environmental footprint at several stages of the life cycle process, including raw resource extraction, manufacturing, and transportation. The materials will also be discussed in terms of responsible procurement, sustainability and community issues.
Vancouver Convention Centre, Media Centre for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Vancouver, British Columbia
In terms of green building materials, wood remains the top choice.
Photo courtesy of www.naturallywood.com