The materials from which building are constructed go through an extensive process before ending up as part of the final product. Research and investigation into that process is necessary to evaluate the environmental impact of various materials on the life cycle of the material, from extraction of the raw material, to production, distribution, and eventually disposal and waste.
When choosing “green” materials for your home, keep in mind their potential impacts on water and air quality, energy use through extraction, manufacturing, distribution, use, reuse, durability, and your health regarding indoor air quality, maintenance, mold and mildew resistance, and general exposure.
Green materials are typically materials that are recycled, salvaged, or harvested from renewable sources, as opposed to nonrenewable materials. Green materials can be used again, and through the life cycle of the product, they minimally impact the environment.
It is best to use local materials and materials that require as little energy for extraction as possible. This supports the local economy, and decreases carbon emissions from manufacturing and transportation of the product. Energy efficient materials reduce energy use and save you money on utility bills.
The benefits of sustainable building are energy and water conservation, lower utility bills, reduced maintenance, and improved indoor air quality.