For architects, specifiers and builders, it's a lot more than the latest "buzz word" for the building industry. Sustainability is about designing and building for the long term while conserving the environment. And industry professionals are choosing building products more conscientiously than ever before. They're choosing building materials such as fiber glass insulation that minimize the impact on the environment.
Fiber glass insulation is a proven performer when it comes to saving energy. We all know a building that is thermally efficient reduces the amount of energy used. But this also means less fossil fuel is burned to produce that energy, resulting in a reduction of polluting gases released into the atmosphere and less need for new power plants.
The Evolution of Green Building
In spite of the significant environmental benefits, only 14% of new homebuyers say that their builders or contractors told them about available green building or energy efficiency options like insulation upgrades, according to Smart Homeowner's Market Focus.
At the same time, 62% of homeowners say they want a "green," environmentally friendly home, and 64% say they would pay $1,000 or more on upgrades that deliver significant energy savings. Nearly 20% are willing to pay $5,000 or more.
In the commercial arena, sustainable design has become a mainstream business proposition for North America's most influential designers and builders. "Green" buildings have never been more popular; in fact, dozens of cities and states now mandate the use of green products, and several foundations tie grants to green design.
The most popular commercial green building program is the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program. LEED evaluates environmental performance from a "whole building" perspective over the life of the construction. Using LEED as a barometer for green building growth, it's easy to see that green construction is here to stay: Since 2000, 171 commercial buildings have been certified and about 1,800 have applied to be certified. In fact, California is now requiring all new state-funded buildings to be LEED silver certified.
Green building is growing because it contributes directly to the bottom line--with 30% of all energy used in commercial buildings consumed by heating and cooling, energy-saving products like fiber glass insulation can translate into significant reductions in operating costs. Sustainable construction has caught the attention of profit-driven builders and developers, and many now place significant weight on green factors such as indoor air quality, recycled content and energy efficiency.
Sustainability Means "Rapidly Renewable".
Did you know that fiber glass insulation's main ingredient is sand, which is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a rapidly renewable resource? Fiber glass insulation manufacturers also recycle more material by weight than any other type of insulation. In fact, last year, fiber glass manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada used over 1.5 billion pounds of recycled glass.
Taking a Life-Cycle Approach
The benefits of fiber glass insulation multiply when looking at its impact over the life of the product from pre-manufacturing, manufacturing, distribution, to use, reuse, maintenance and waste management. According to NAIMA, fiber glass insulation:
- Reduces demand on virgin resources
- Saves landfill space byusing recycled materials
- Saves energy and pollution emitted during the manufacturing process.
In addition, the industry as a whole has recycled 9 billion pounds of glass in the last ten years, equivalent to 30.34 pounds per U.S. citizen.