Materials

Select materials that are appropriate to the local area, this will ensure that local suppliers are used, and the building is in keeping with the local surroundings.

Select materials with appropriate thermal properties for the operation of the building, consider if any thermal mass is needed and where (see energy) and consider the amount of insulation required for the building and whether the materials meet these requirements.

Select materials with a low embodied energy, i.e. materials whose embodied impact through the manufacture and production processes is lower than alternative specifications that are also fit for purpose. This can be identified using the Green Guide to Specification (www.greenguidetospecification.co.uk).

Select timber that has been responsibly sourced. Look for a certification label on the timber or request this as part of the material supplier specification. Certification bodies include the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) amongst others and they demonstrate that the timber has been sourced responsibly.

Materials also need to consider the acoustic requirements of the building, i.e. what is an acceptable noise level between internal partitions or when it's raining. See occupant comfort for more detail.

Re-using and recycling materials is usually a positive thing to do in terms of the environment and whilst this is generally established practice for fill type activities, it is being more frequently encouraged for structural purposes e.g. recycled aggregate in structural slabs. Be wary that if the recycled / re-used materials travel too far to the site, any positive impact from the recycled / re-used aspect may be negated by the transport emissions. Also note that some recycled materials (having gone through a recycling process) may be more energy intensive and less sustainable than using well managed virgin sources.


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