Conventional building construction and operation consumes large quantities of wood, water, metals, fossil fuels and other natural resources. Even though the majority of the materials used to build a home are put to good use, vast quantities of resources are wasted. In fact, building an average 2,000-sq. ft. house produces about 7,000 pounds of waste.
Much of this waste is avoidable. Careful management of the construction process makes a big difference. There are also many well-established homebuilding practices that help protect natural resources. For example, advanced framing techniques can substantially reduce lumber requirements without compromising structural integrity. Using engineered lumber and wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council can help protect old-growth forests.
There are many effective building strategies that conserve natural resources, as well as provide benefits such as cost savings. These include using durable products such as roofing materials with 40- or 50-year warranties, and specifying recycled-content products that divert waste from landfills. Recycled-content decking, reclaimed lumber and other products put waste to good use, while providing quality and durability that often exceed conventional materials. For example, decking materials made of recycled plastic mixed with wood waste fibers can last up to five times longer than wood decking, and never needs to be treated or painted.
Water is another critical resource. Our prosperity and ability to meet the needs of our growing population hinge on having adequate supplies of clean, fresh water. Homes built and landscaped to use water wisely make a tremendous contribution to protecting our shared resources. An added benefit is lower expenses for the homeowner. Today’s builders can take advantage of a new generation of cost-effective, high efficiency appliances and landscape water management systems.