Environmentally-friendly materials: the right and affordable choice
If you choose the right materials, in the right quantity, you will avoid renovation work in the short term and give yourself a healthy home while limiting your environmental footprint. For the ERE 132 home, we opted for quality and durability of materials. They have been, for the most part, extracted and processed locally and are free of toxic fumes.
GREY (EMBODIED) ENERGY AND LIFECYCLE
Grey energy represents the overall energy used for a product, from the extraction of raw materials up to the end of the product’s useful life. Grey energy comprises the transformation of the product, the transportation of its components and what the product is being used for. Thus, the more grey energy that a product has, the less it is environmentally friendly because it has a more significant impact on the environment.
The lifecycle takes into account grey energy as well as sustainability of the product. Both criteria can be translated into greenhouse gases (GHG). If we combine the grey energy from all the components of a house, there is no doubt that the building would be a major producer of GHG.
Think about the wood necessary for the structure of a building, the concrete for its foundations, the insulation materials, the roof and floor coverings, the furniture and the finishing products. All these components have a grey energy. Each component’s grey energy will vary, to a more or lesser degree, depending on the component’s origin, method of manufacture, raw materials used and if it is recyclable or not.
For the ERE 132 home, the materials have been selected so as to reduce the environmental impact of the home. They are primarily natural, processed and sold locally. For the most part, they are recyclable and their production requires very little energy.
Of course, the labelling of the product will not, in and of itself, inform the consumer about the product’s lifecycle. So how does the consumer find out about the product? If you want materials that have a very low environmental impact, like those used in the Eco Home, here are some questions to ask:
- Where does the material come from?
- What is the lifespan of the material?
- Does the material have a negative impact on health?
- Does the material have an environmental certification?
- Is the material recyclable at the end of its usefulness?
- And finally, is the material made of recycled content?
You will then be able to compare the materials and products in a fair manner.
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