Climaterial is a term coined by a young EPA scientist to help builders grasp the connection between material selection and carbon footprint - climatic impact. That researcher, Saskia van Gendt, focuses her work on initiatives to promote green building practices, including the use of reusable packaging. At stake is a reduction of harmful emissions and pressure to landfill construction debris, which accounts for one-third of America's solid waste generation.
For example, she notes that materials such as cement result in considerable carbon dioxide emissions during production. With this in mind, we would do well to consider how to reduce consumption and promote reuse and recycling.
In 2007, van Gendt created the Lifecycle Building Challenge, an online competition that celebrates innovative building design practices. Also promoted are designs which facilitate disassembly and reuse of materials, and in the process, minimizing waste, energy expenditure, and greenhouse gas emissions. Lifecycle Building Challenge partners include EPA, Stopwaste.org, American Institute of Architects, Reuse Alliance, and west coast green.
To date, the Lifecycle Building Challenge has had over 2 million hits, and 250 participants. The result has been the conservation of over 35,000 tons of building materials and the prevention of 8,115 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Check out the Lifecycle Building Challenge website at www.lifecyclebuilding.org