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Industry Trends3 min

How Does Sustainable Building Affect the Construction Industry?

As new data and construction practices shape the building industry, sustainable construction takes on new and improved forms based on expanded ways of thinking. Resilience in building construction also comes into play as contractors seek to build intentionally from both sustainability and strength perspectives.

We caught up with Neil Freidberg, Building Science Manager at LP, to get his take on sustainable building, how resiliency ties into the conversation around green building, and much more.

What Is Sustainable Building?

Sustainable building is an approach to construction that prioritizes increasing resource efficiency while also decreasing construction’s impact on the environment.

In his work, Freidberg emphasizes a holistic view of sustainable building. "Many components in a wall, for example, may individually be sustainable, but when you build a home, you build a system," he says. "When you build sustainable homes, you have to consider how the pieces work together."

What Are Sustainable Building Practices?

Sustainable building practices include practical steps building professionals can take to make their processes more efficient and reduce the impact of their work on the surrounding areas. 

"For a builder, sustainable building practices mean they can continue building in the future," Freidberg adds. "Building a business that is sustainable means that materials keep coming in, for example." When he consults builders, Freidberg recommends hiring someone to go through their waste piles as one way of increasing sustainability. Often, builders throw away plenty of material that could be reused.

“As a company, LP can take steps to help improve future products,” he mentions. “We can make sure products are easier and faster to install, simplifying the system in general.” See more ways LP works toward sustainability here.

Why Is a Building Envelope Important?

A high performance building envelope helps protect the interior of a home from exterior elements, and it contributes to indoor air quality as it prevents allergens and pollutants from entering the home. A tight building envelope is key in terms of sustainability because it determines the home's energy efficiency to a degree.

Here are a few ways to create a tighter building envelope:

  1. Use OSB products. “Indoor air quality comes from controlling the environment. If you have a lot of walls that leak, allergens, debris, bugs and more can come in,” Freidberg says. OSB naturally reduces permeability, which helps keep unwanted elements out.
  2. Install an air and water barrier. LP WeatherLogic® Air & Water Barrier works as a moisture management system for the whole home. “Taping the seams and sealing them off contributes to a tight building envelope,” says Freidberg.
  3. Ensure framing is installed well. “The framer is the key component to making a tight and more sustainable building,” he adds. “They set the standard for the rest of the house by reducing cracks and gaps.”

Advantages and Disadvantages of Sustainable Construction

Though sustainable construction can, at times, mean higher upfront costs for builders, there are many benefits to ensuring your builds have a low impact on the environment. Additionally, when you use sustainable products like those in the LP Structural Solutions portfolio, you'll also practice resilient building along the way. Here are some ways sustainable construction benefits your finished product:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Better indoor air quality
  • Less waste on the jobsite
  • Emphasis on ways to repurpose and reuse
  • Efficient product ordering and resourcing
  • Safer work environment for your crew
  • Safer environment for surrounding buildings, homes and people

LP Building Solutions: A Commitment to Sustainability

With LP engineered wood products, “you’re looking at a sustainable product to begin with,” Freidberg says. “Wood is a renewable resource; it’s not technically finite.” LP also sources fairly young trees and manages their forest resourcing responsibly, which helps reduce the company’s carbon footprint along the way.

Beyond being a sustainable product, "OSB has both structural benefits to the home and the ability to persevere through the elements, such as moisture exposure," Freidberg adds. By combining an inherently renewable resource with the strength and stability builders need for resilient structures, LP creates a win-win product that can be useful for builders across the country.

Check out more insights from LP Building Solutions as 2021 takes shape.