Material Selection and Conservation addresses the careful selection of building materials to limit air pollution during material transportation, support regional economies, maintain healthy indoor air quality, reduce and reuse waste, support socially and environmentally responsible companies and encourage recycling.

The Importance of Material Selection and Conservation

Did you know?

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 136 million tons of building-related construction and demolition debris was generated in the United States in 1996.1
  • In 2002, humanity's demand on the biosphere – its global “ecological footprint” – was 23% greater than the earth’s regenerative capacity.2
  • Industry moves, mines, extracts, shovels, burns, wastes, pumps and/or disposes of 4 million pounds of material in order to provide one average middle-class American family’s needs for a year.3
  • Americans waste or cause to be wasted nearly 1 million pounds of materials per person per year.4
  • The built environment is expected to double by the year 2030.5
  • The industrial world needs to reduce its material and energy use by more than 90% to meet the needs of future generations.6

Defining Green Building Characteristics in this Category

  • Products used are recyclable.
  • Products used have a high recycled content.
  • Wood comes from certified, sustainably managed forests.
  • Products used are salvaged or refurbished.
  • Every effort has been made to select products that are manufactured or extracted regionally.
  • Products are made from materials that are abundant, rather than dwindling in supply.
  • Consideration is given to the energy required during manufacturing process.
  • Products are durable and long-lasting.
  • Serious consideration is given to the amount of maintenance the products require and whether harmful chemicals are needed for maintenance.
  • Particular awareness is given to manufacturers of products known for corporate social and environmental responsibility.
  • Products contain little or no off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or toxic compounds.
  • Priority is given to materials that emit little or no pollutants into the environment during the manufacturing process.

Material Selection and Conservation in the GreenHome

The GreenHome includes flooring manufactured from logs that are salvaged and milled in nearby Wilmington, N.C. More than 90% of products in this house will be no- or low-VOC labeled. We chose regionally produced materials whenever possible including the brick for the home produced just 40 miles from the site. Our target goal for the recycling or reuse of construction and demolition waste is more than 75%.

The following features of the GreenHome exemplify material selection and conservation:

  • Recycled Content
  • Construction Waste management
  • Efficient Manufacturing
  • Durability
  • Certified Wood
  • Engineered Wood
  • Salvaged Wood
  • In-home Recycling
  • Multifunctioning Façade
  • Sustainable Doors and Cabinet
  • Environmentally Friendly Produced Materials
  • Transportation/Embodied Energy
  • Sustainable Design Consulting