WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF BUILDING MATERIAL SELECTION?
It is estimated that the construction industry is responsible for over 45% of carbon emissions in the US and
that new building materials account for roughly 11% of total global emissions. This MUST change and it must
change fast. Additionally, selecting sustainable building materials also has direct relationships to social
equity, environmental justice, clean air and water, and preserving healthy/vibrant natural areas.
In order to disrupt these statistics, our team of architects consider the impact of their designs long before drawings are sent out to a builder.
One of the most dramatic impact designers can have, is to create home’s that minimize or eliminate their need for destructive building materials. The manufacturing process of steel and concrete typically requires the use of coal to create temperatures over 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and is often imported from across the world. This generates a massive amount of carbon emissions. On the contrary, wood is a renewable resource which absorbs and traps CO2 and can be sourced locally. A recent study* stated that “Using wood substitutes could save 14 to 31% of global CO2 emissions and 12 to 19% of global FF consumption by using 34 to 100% of the world’s sustainable wood growth.”
HOW DOES IT AFFECT HOME COSTS?
If an architect knows early on that one of the homeowners’ goals is to prioritize the use of sustainable
building materials, they can make many design decisions that will help achieve that goal without dramatically
impacting the overall cost.
Both material options have their own limitations that will affect the home’s design. While the cost of a steel-framed home is more expensive than a wood-framed residence, there are some design elements that can only be accomplished using steel framing. Therefore, if building material selection is important to you, it should be discussed with our architects before we begin to design.
It is important to note here that while there is a significant environmental benefit, sustainably sourced lumber is more costly than that of standard, commercially manufactured lumber. Continue on to the next section for more information about the value and costs of renewable lumber.