There’s no easy answer. The term has been tossed around for years, from consumers wanting to “do the right thing” to the product manufacturers who want to sell it to them. There are so many shades of green that it’s difficult to keep track of them.
There are two sides to this discussion. Those who argue against vinyl siding as a green product say that its manufacturing process contains harmful chemicals. It’s also difficult to dispose of or reuse once it has served its purpose—when vinyl siding burns, it introduces harmful chemicals into the environment.
Advocates for vinyl siding give an interesting rebuttal: It is manufactured at a lower energy cost than many other siding products, typically produces less waste during manufacturing and installation, and is virtually maintenance free. Once it has been applied, it never needs to be replaced (less material use) and doesn’t need to be painted (no new chemicals introduced into the environment).
In our mission to make better buildings, we have found that, all too often, a product simply cannot be 100% green due to tradeoffs in other aspects of its nature. So, a better question might be: What aspects of green building do we care about most? There are several factors to consider when determining whether building materials are green:
With time, dedication, and clients who are willing to join us on our quest to push the limits on what it means to be sustainable, hopefully we can continue to advocate for truly green products.
Turns out, the answer to this question isn’t easy to nail down. Instead, it’s a larger discussion that we’d love to delve into with you.
One thing is certain: With more and more people looking for green building materials and sustainable homes, it will become easier and easier to see the different shades of green.