Definition of a Green Building Product

Green Building Requires Evaluating the Entire Lifecycle of each Home Building Product

By Mark J. Donovan

When contemplating a green building project, it is important to fully understand the definition of green building. Green building means more than just using energy efficient operating products and materials. Green building requires the use of products and services that meet several criteria for energy savings and natural resource conservation. The evaluation of the entire lifecycle of a product is required to determine if it is truly a green building product. This includes from the manufacturing of the product, to the shipment of the product, its use, and finally, its disposal.

For a product to be fully classified as a green building product the product should be manufactured from recycled materials.

For example, insulation that is manufactured from recyclable newspapers would meet the first criteria in the definition of being a green building product. Also, products that are manufactured from renewable resources would also meet the first criteria in the definition of green building material.

The next phase in the life-cycle of a product that needs to be evaluated to determine if a product truly qualifies as a green building product is how it is shipped, and the distance between the manufacturing facility and the build site. For example, a product that is manufactured in China that needs to be shipped to a build site in New England, would probably not meet this criteria in the definition of a green building product.

The third phase that has to be considered in determining if a product truly qualifies as a green building product is the operational energy savings it provides. For a product to qualify as energy efficient it needs to be compared with its peers.

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For example, a dishwasher that uses a third less energy and water compared to the typical dishwasher may qualify as a green product.

Finally, the disposal or recycling of the product needs to be considered in the determination of whether or not a product qualifies as green. A product, for example, that is manufactured with a majority of its components and materials that can be recycled would meet this criterion for green building.

So when contemplating building a green home, make sure you consider the entire life-cycle of each home building product. Only the products that meet all four phases of the product life-cycle truly qualify as green building products.

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