7 Questions To Help Choose Green Building Materials

In green building, the lifecycle analysis (LCA) of materials is critical. The stages in this cycle as we know them are: raw material, manufacturing, distribution, use, and end-of-life management….. so-on-and-so-forth. I’m sure many of you have heard this more than once. But what does any of that mean? Well, the simple answer is, products that we can use fully with little to no waste; complete efficiency is what green building strives for. Green building materials and options are becoming more available as concern over environmental and health issues increase.


Life Cycle Diagram. Image via EPA.

7 Questions to Ask About Your Green Building Project

If you want to make sure your building project is green from the foundation up then ask yourself these questions about the green building materials you’re using:

1. Where is it coming from?

Transporting something form a long distance adds to CO2 emissions in our atmosphere, so picking local materials is often a better choice.

2. What is it made of?

Some insulation and building supplies have chemicals that are harmful for the environment and our health in them and its important avoid these if possible.

3. How is this material created?

If it was made in a factory, you should look at the processes it was made by because often that itself isn’t green.

4. Can this be reused again?

You should pick as many materials as possible that can be used repeatedly so these materials won’t end up in a landfill.

5. What will happen to this material when it becomes obsolete?

You should find out if there’s a proper way to dispose of unusable products.

6. How can this product be used in a creative way to make this building more efficient?

Some materials do not necessarily have to be used in the way they were intended. You should look for innovative ways to incorporate materials into your project.

7. Is there a better material that can do a more ecological job?

Sometimes the answer will be yes and you may have to give up a material you really liked for something greener, which is hard at times.


Personally, I believe reusing components is the biggest factor when building ecologically. Don’t get me wrong there are many aspects that go into a sustainable building, but why not start with what we already have. Did you know that tons of construction materials end up in landfills each year? In the United States green real estate market, a non-profit organization called the Building Material Reuse Association (or BMRA) is steadfast in educating others on “recovery, reuse, and recycling of building materials to reduce the consumption of new resources, reduce landfill waste, and increase cost effectiveness.” Programs like this are important to the construction industries and in the green real estate market because they aren’t just throwing around the concept of lifecycle, they are initiating key points on how to identify and use these green building materials.

New, exciting, and innovative supplies are wonderful when it comes to sustainability, but let’s not forget what being green means. The green real estate market isn’t always about new materials, however advanced they are. It’s also about thinking creatively with the materials already at hand.

About The Author

is a undergrad student who has been studying architecture for over four years, first at Pratt Institute and now at UCF. Sustainability is important to her as a designer because architects greatly influence the environment through building and construction. It's vital for her to understand what the current issues are and how we can go about improving them. Her motto is "We can't create innovation without knowing what has already been done".