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Green Building Design Guide

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Use of Natural Resources

Most building materials have an adverse impact on the environment However it is possible to lessen this by careful choice of the materials you use.

FSC LogoEnsure any timber you use comes from a sustainable resource. Provided the forests are protected and responsibly managed, timber is a renewable resource which can be used again and again. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and logo.

  • Avoid all tropical hardwood unless it carries the FSC logo. Such wood is often harvested from natural ancient forests and destruction of these forests can lead to environmental degradation, including loss of wildlife habitats and climate change.
  • Remember bricks, slates, tiles, cement and aggregates all have environmental implications in terms of quarrying, manufacturing and transportation, so use reclaimed materials instead wherever possible. Most builders merchants carry stocks of reclaimed second-hand materials. Using products like these slows the rate of extraction of raw materials and reduces the amount of waste going to landfill Not only that, but reclaimed bricks and tiles are usually already weathered and you can often get them to match your existing building. This could be important in a conservation area.
  • If you are demolishing a building or part of a building, remember you may be able to use some of the materials again, or others could.
  • PVC is widely used for products such as replacement doors and windows, drainpipes and guttering. There are arguments for and against its use and as the possible impacts of its production and disposal are not yet known, no definitive advice can be offered. However, we believe the use of PVC in the long term is unsustainable as the manufacturing process is heavily dependent on petroleum based products.
  • Buy local products whenever possible. Local products need less transportation and therefore result in lower energy consumption.
  • Avoid the use of peat in landscaping schemes as peat is often taken from important wildlife sites. Other options are available and your garden centre can offer advice.
  • Be aware of what trees and shrubs you may be removing when building, as some trees are protected. For information on protected trees contact your district council's planning officers.
  • If you are buying stone, for a rockery perhaps, make sure that it has come from a quarry. Water-worn limestone should never be used.
  • Avoid disturbing wildlife, especially birds during the breeding season.

Use of natural resources