There was a time when green construction was merely the talk of an idealist. I can remember the time before LEED showed up, before green construction practices were truly considered. Once these practices did start showing up in force it was met with skepticism and resistance (our human nature towards change is the subject of another discussion.)
Flash forward to present day and green construction is now sexy. Big time sexy. Everyone wants to say that they are building green, that their products are green. By getting us to build your building or by buying our product, essentially you are saving the earth from the catastrophic results of pollution and global warming. Kind of like how snacks put some random fact about an obscure vitamin on their packaging to convince your subconscious that the sugar laden breakfast cereal is actually somehow good for you.
Don’t get me wrong I am all for green construction practices and yes buying our thermal system lowers the effects of global warming (and did I mention you will be saving the earth?) That being said; I do want to point out that not all green construction practices are created equal. Of course within that argument is the complexities that designers and contractors will have to weigh versus their own moral compass.
For example take a look at our thermal break (Tigerloc) versus lining your window openings with treated wood. By using treated wood you are using the great renewable resource of wood so everyone is happy. Wood is automatically considered green, if you compare it to our thermal break made from a polymer the majority would rule that the treated wood is the more sustainable option. The fact is that in reality treated wood is not recyclable, it end up in a landfill. Treated wood eats aluminum and fasteners so your building assembly will fail sooner than if you used Tigerloc and treated wood doesn’t have the thermal resistance that Tigerloc does so your building will use more energy over its lifetime.
There is also the practicality associated with green construction. I heard a story from one of my clients about a building that was constructed to meet LEED Silver requirements. Months after the construction was complete and the building was open, they had to go around and re-glue all the mirrors in place with a regular PL adhesive as the low VOC product specified wasn’t strong enough to keep the mirrors in place.
As contractors and designers, the power is in our hands to limit the environmental impact of the buildings we are constructing. We need to ask ourselves the question however on what environmental responsibility really is. Is it meeting a prescriptive requirement that gives us just another notch on the belt or is it having the courage to engineer building systems that are truly environmentally compliant?
We challenge you to build and design your buildings to meet green construction standards not just in a prescriptive sense, we challenge you to build and design your buildings in a #practicalgreen sense.