The Significance of MaterialsPosted: August 3, 2014
It is the most natural thing, that my husband and I have been drawn into a business, that allows the expression of our authentic environmentalist tendencies. We were environmentalists, before we had a business that transforms society’s waste products into “new” and high quality building materials. We were never extremists but always practical and realistic regarding our environmental perspectives. In the 25+ years we have been involved in an environmentally friendly business, we’ve seen a lot of change, we’ve watched businesses come and go, and we’ve become aware of when a professed environmentalism is not heartfelt but just another marketing ploy.
The newest trend is not simply supportive of “green materials” but supportive of human health. According to Brent Trenga – “Building ‘green’ has finally broken out of the LEED box its been handcuffed to for the last 10 years. The importance of building products to human health and to our environment has been brought back to its roots. Understanding where our building products come from, and the ecological footprint they leave behind, truly has the ability to unite the construction industry” and building product manufacturers.
At the American Institute of Architects website – there is a whole section devoted to materials and why they matter. You do not have to be a AIA Member to participate in a survey about materials – https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AIA-Materials. They would like to understand what matters to you and how you think about these issues. One must have some working knowledge of buildings, specifications and related understandings to have anything valuable to contribute to the survey. I have participated in it today.
The AIA asks, and I echo – “What if we could do more ?”. I have a deep appreciation for what architects do. “Architects do more than design buildings. Architects select the materials that touch people’s lives.” Each artist has a medium that the creative person works with. For architects, that medium is the materials that they use. The best architects are always seeking out new information in order to make ever smarter choices. And increasingly “health” matters – your health, their health, the planet’s health – to architects. This is the latest frontier in responsible architecture.
The AIA Materials link for “Green Products and Materials: Past, Present, and Future” by Nadav Malin, President of BuildingGreen, notes that “using products with high recycled content is a good way to avoid the need for extracting more raw materials from the earth”. We are proud that is the core foundation of our business. All of our “new” materials are “recycled”. Many are 100% post-consumer recycled. Post industrial is a bigger problem by volume actually but post-consumer requires modifications to more behaviors.
The AIA has long-range goals as demonstrated by their 2030 Commitment program. We appreciate that. We love seeing so many of the architectural firms that we have worked with in our 25+ years in business on that AIA list for this commitment. “The AIA 2030 Commitment is a growing national initiative that provides a consistent, national framework with simple metrics and a standardized reporting format to help firms evaluate the impact design decisions have on an individual project’s energy performance. To truly rise to meet the energy reduction goals of 2030, we have to apply the principles of sustainable design to every project from its inception and early design through project completion and ongoing building operations–not just those projects where our clients wish to pursue third party green building certification. The profession can’t meet radical building energy use reduction targets one project at a time and architects are embracing the challenge at hand by thinking differently about sustainable design.”
Concepts of Waste, Water, Carbon, Materials and Biodiversity are all important considerations as owners and professionals discuss and explore the choices available to them regarding their construction plans. Overall, life on this planet continues to grow in complexity and this is true in the architectural and construction realms as well. Areas of concern, into which decisions are expanding, include occupant health, the overall environment and resource depletion. The materials and techniques used in creating a “green building” should ideally have no negative impact on the environment.
With ALL of our products, we strive to meet traditional building design concerns of quality, economy, utility, durability, and aesthetics. Denielle D’Ambrosio notes in her blog about the Principles, Strategies & Measures in Green Building that “Taking a holistic approach to implementing these strategies puts us in a better position to preserve our environment for future generations by conserving natural resources and protecting air and water quality”. All issues of importance to us personally and that we strive to express in our business practices. We certainly agree with her perspective that “green building is a whole-systems approach to building design and construction”.
~ Information Resources
“Materials Matter to the AIA” by Brent Trenga, Director of Sustainability, posted at GreenWizard on July 23, 2014 – http://blog.greenwizard.com/wp/2014/07/materials-matter-to-the-aia/
“Material Matter Campaign” AIA – http://www.aia.org/practicing/materials/index.htm
“Green Products and Materials: Past, Present, and Future” by Nadav Malin, President of BuildingGreen – http://www.aia.org/practicing/groups/kc/AIAB104033
“The AIA 2013 Commitment” – http://www.aia.org/about/initiatives/AIAB079544
“Principles, Strategies & Measures in Green Building” by Denielle D’Ambrosio, Director of Marketing, posted at GreenWizard on July 14, 2014 – http://blog.greenwizard.com/wp/2014/07/principles-strategies-measures-in-green-building/
Blog author ~ Deborah Hart Yemm is co-founder of
Yemm & Hart, a green materials producer