Construction materials

5 parameters for choosing ecological building materials

Several years ago, while still a graduate student in the Environmental Design Department of the Arab Academy of Science and Technology in Egypt, Sahar Salah published a research paper on Materials and construction techniques applied to achieve durability. In her work, she codifies sustainable or green building materials in each of the three phases of the design life cycle: pre-construction, construction, and post-construction.

The pre-construction aspects of material durability focus on the fabrication of the component. In other words, how durable is the extraction, processing, packaging and shipping of the material. Where does pollution, environmental damage or waste occur?

The construction phase is all about the use of the material. Or, how durable is the construction, installation, operation or maintenance of the material. Is it cumbersome to operate – requiring a lot of energy-consuming equipment – excessively expensive and inefficient to operate or difficult to maintain?

In the post-construction phase, the focus is on what to do with the material when its shelf life is over and needs to be disposed of. Is this material easy to recycle, reuse or reuse?

In the following conversations, we’ll dig deeper into sustainable building techniques. For this discussion, I’d like to use the concept of pre-construction as a way to channel the narrative around designing, evaluating, and acquiring green building materials.

Pre-construction phase: manufacture of sustainable materials

Sometimes it’s good to see things from a different perspective. Rather than immediately focusing on the cost, utility, and efficiency of an end material – and using those few factors to determine what green building materials you incorporate into your projects – try looking at how each product works. went from its natural state to the building shelf. supply center. In doing so, consider the process required to achieve this final material according to these five parameters:

  1. Pollution prevention: Is there anything in the material manufacturing process that is potentially harmful to the environment or the health of workers or occupants of the building?
  2. Waste prevention: Is there something in the material manufacturing process that creates a lot of waste?
  3. Recycled content: Is there a way to make this material from post-industrial or post-consumer recycled waste (wood, asphalt, plastic, aluminum, etc.)?
  4. Intrinsic energy of a material: Does collecting the raw material and its subsequent processing require a lot of energy, as with rare earth metals which must be mined and heavily refined to be used?
  5. Natural materials: Is there a way to use a renewable natural element that requires less processing and causes less damage to the environment or has lower toxicity than a synthetic material?

Once you factor in the less obvious ramifications of using different materials, you’ll be ready to make more informed material choices and better appreciate some of the hidden collateral damage that comes with some building materials. Otherwise, you might find that a material choice made today for economic reasons will ultimately cost you much more from an environmental, social, or even financial perspective – just think of the costs associated with asbestos remediation. over the past 40 years.

There are tons of green building materials that have been mined or obtained in an environmentally, economically and socially responsible manner. Gordian is well prepared to help you access these sustainable materials in two main ways: a green building materials dataset or a custom building task catalog.®.

Interested in more sustainable building content? Check out our sustainable building design blog post, and be on the lookout for our next eBook providing additional tips on how to build green buildings.

Concept Demonstration: Gordian Green Building Materials Dataset

RSMeans data from Gordian is a published dataset of over 85,000 construction line items and assemblies that include the material, labor and equipment costs associated with each job. If you want to know roughly what it would cost to install insulation in a newly remodeled installation, RSMeans data can give you a cost per square foot (or linear foot) comprised of the national average labor cost. The work for the person doing the work, the insulation itself and part of the cost of the stapler (or other required equipment) used to secure it to the posts.

This task database can be provided in the form of price books, CD or one cloud-based online platform. As part of this data library, Gordian publishes a Costs of green buildings dataset that is updated annually for printed material and quarterly for the online platform. This dataset includes national averages for just about every type of green, recycled, reused or sustainably sourced building material known to man. It is an ideal starting point for ecologically, socially and environmentally responsible building materials.

RSMeans data’s green building costs dataset is a relentless embrace of all that is sustainable. You name it, and the Green Building Costs dataset can tell you roughly what it will cost to build with it. You can Check it out here.

But, let’s say you’ve exceeded the need for a conceptual estimate based on a national average. You have secured funding for the project. It’s time to collect competitive offers based on your detailed scope, award the job, and start building something. What should a project leader do? You need a more personalized and sourcing specific solution.

Innovative: Customized ecological building task catalog

that of Gordien construction supply The solutions are supported by a custom unit price catalog called the Construction Task Catalog (CTC), which is created exclusively for construction procurement projects. A CTC contains localized prices of materials, labor, and equipment for common tasks, all based on your brand’s preferences and specifications.

If you need a contractor to install 300 American Standard UHETs (Ultra High Efficiency Toilets) which offers a choice of either 0.92 / 1.28 gpf H2Option dual flush tank or 1 single flush style , 1 gpf H2Optimum with MaP PREMIUM certification in Dallas, TX; Or if you want someone who complies with your MWBE bid compliance standards to install 5000 square feet of Owens Corning “Foamular XPS 150” R-10 wall insulation in Lexington SC, then costs based on an average. national won’t do the job.

While a cost book (physical or digital) gives you the national average for general types of materials, the CTC gives you the costs for very specific brands and models of products in over 970 geographic locations. Recognizing that the cost of labor and materials can be drastically different in San Francisco compared to Atlanta, the CTC provides a mechanism to create a highly accurate and geographically accurate detailed scope of working papers and bid evaluations. .

The CTC allows you to determine the specific materials to use and the standards to meet. It also allows contractors to bid on work competitively with adjustment factors that set the final price of the work and take all the guesswork out of pricing the project. So you can think of the CTC as your own localized, brand-specific version of a construction cost book.

Whether you are looking for a conceptual cost estimate for green building materials in general, or trying to get a highly localized offering for specific sustainable material brands and products, Gordian’s data, software and expertise can help. help you achieve it.


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