Each year, building and construction activities worldwide consume 3 billion tons of raw materials, accounting for 40 percent of total global use of raw materials.
Given dwindling nonrenewable resources throughout the world, it's more important than ever for modern designers to make the jump from energy efficient to energy renewing with green building materials. After all, the use of the right materials represents a key strategy in the design and building of not just sustainable, but renewable structures.
What Makes Green Building Materials Green?
With any green building material, it's important to look at their specific properties and consider how they contribute to saving energy. As a general rule, green building materials are composed of renewable resources. They also offer the following benefits to the building and its occupants:
- Reduced maintenance/replacement costs over the life of the building
- Energy conservation
- Improved occupant health and productivity
But designers are taking green one step further by not just considering the physical makeup of a material, but all environmental impacts resulting throughout the entire lifespan of the product. This includes, but isn't limited to:
- Sourcing of materials used to make building products
- Manufacture of products
- Processing and transport of materials
- Installation of green building materials
- Reuse, recycling, and disposal of materials
Criteria for Selecting Green Building Materials
According to the Construction Specifications Institute, designers selecting green building materials should consider them for the following aspects:
- Resource efficiency: Products should be made with natural, plentiful, recycled, recyclable, and renewable materials harvested from local, sustainably managed sources. Products should also be manufactured using resource-efficient processes that pay attention to reduced energy consumption, waste minimization (including recyclable and source-reduced product packaging), and greenhouse gas reduction.
- Indoor air quality: Materials should be moisture resistant (inhibiting the growth of biological contaminants) or, in the case of unfinished wood, kiln, dried and heat sterilized, nontoxic (meaning they do not emit carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, or irritants), and emit no volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Energy efficiency: Materials should result in a building that itself consumes less energy and produces less waste.
- Water conservation: Products and systems should help reduce water consumption not only in the completed building, but also work toward conserving water in landscaped areas.
- Affordability: Green building material costs should be comparable to conventional materials, or at the least, the project as a whole should fit within the budget.
How Bark House Stays Green
Wood is one of the most famous and most regenerative building materials used around the world. At Bark House, we go extra lengths to ensure that all of our processes and materials keep the environment at the forefront.
For starters, we harvest our products from wood waste resulting from local lumber operations. Not only are we not implementing extra processes to harvest our materials, but we're also actively helping to improve our local environment by removing lumber waste materials, which would decay and release excess carbon dioxide into the air, from the outdoors and putting it to better use.
Not only that, but our products are also completely biodegradable, meaning we pay attention to the entire lifecycle of our products, from production and installment all the way to the end of their lifespan.
Finally, our products themselves are contributing to a better environment. For starters, our bark panels, pole end cuts, and other wood products are all natural and contribute to positive indoor air quality. Just as importantly, they bring nature indoors, which is not just beautiful, but also leads to improved mental health for the people enjoying these interior spaces.