If you are comparing building materials of wood to concrete, recent research confirmed that houses made from wood present significantly lower risks to the environment. When you consider the results of this research —wood-based building materials require less energy to produce, emit less pollution to the air and water, contribute lower amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere, are easily disposed of or recycled, and are derived from a renewable resource — the environmental advantages of wood over steel and concrete are evident.
The life cycle of a building material starts with the extraction of the required raw material. This could include harvesting trees from a forest or mining iron ore from a strip mine. The next step is to convert the raw material into a useable product. Sawing logs into lumber is a good example of this. The use of the building material in service and its disposal/recycling are the final steps in the cycle. Each of these steps require an input of energy such as electricity or fossil fuels as well as outputs generated such as water and air pollution, greenhouse gases, solid waste, etc. Quantifying the total input of energy and the environmental outputs throughout this cycle and using it to compare the environmental performance of different building materials is known as a life-cycle analysis.Life-cycle analysis results for a concrete- vs. wood-framed home showed the concrete-framed home used 16 percent more energy; had 31 percent more global warming potential; had 23 percent more air emissions; had over 300 percent more water emissions and produced 51 percent more solid waste. The results of this comparison certainly show the advantages that wood building materials have over steel and concrete within the context of environmental performance.
Rock structures are sturdier than wooden structures, so you likely will not have to make as many repairs or build newer buildings if a building is made out of stone. In addition, trees that are cut down to make wooden homes are no longer reducing CO2 in the air, this is a function only living trees cad do via photosynthesis.
ON the other hand, stone homes are less well insulated naturally than wood homes, so it oculd require more energy to heat / cool these structures. In the end, the material is relatively insignifcant when considering eco-friendlyness compared to what sort of processes are being conducted inside the building.
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