RETHINKING THE BUILDING STOCK – IT’S A CARBON THING (Buy Cheap Buy Twice:Part 4)
When buildings are considered more speculative investments than human right … the choices of materials are made based solely on upfront cost, not long term durability (or occupant comfort, or environmental impact). . Buildings are not being built to last. It is a fool’s game. Our buildings should be designed to function for several generations not just one. The building envelope should be made up of materials that last a similar length of time so that the overall durability of the building is not compromise by one poorly chosen element. The interiors of buildings should be separate from the buildings thermal envelope so that interior changes minimally affect the exterior.
Despite above high durability toxic materials should not be used on buildings. Retrofitting a building should not create hazardous waste. Poly Vinyl Chloride siding, exterior foam stucco finish and asphalt shingles will spend more time in landfill than on any building. Straw Bale buildings can last over 100 years. Rammed Earth buildings can last over 500 years and when they eventually fail they return to the earth literally and figuratively. It would be amazing if construction waste could be used to enrich the soil not poison it.
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