Green materials add value to your home, while helping make our shared environment just a little bit more healthy. Vinyl and other synthetic siding materials are popular and cheap, but they come at a cost to the world at large, since making and disposing of them releases toxic chemicals that can leach into soil and waterways.
If you're remodeling your siding, consider reaching for these planet-friendly alternatives to plastic.
Use LEED Certified Materials
Fortunately, sustainable construction materials are flooding the market. When choosing your sources, look for LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). This means a product has been evaluated for environmental characteristics in each phase of design, construction, and operation.
Created and evaluated by the United States Green Building Council, LEED certification is widely used around the world.
Reclaimed lumber is a great choice all around. It comes in a wide variety of options, conveys a rustic, natural feel, and makes a major impact on the environment by helping cut down on deforestation.
Another advantage of reclaimed wood is that it's usually harder and stronger than virgin wood, since it's more likely to come from old growth forests. This makes it less susceptible to termites, carpenter ants, fire, and rot.
Metal siding is another popular choice because it's easy to find, offers some fire protection, and provides strong defense against the effects of harsh weather. But metal siding has its issues too. Most metals rust and decay over time, which means you may have to replace your metal siding sooner than other options. Metal also lacks the insulating qualities of other materials.
That said, steel is one of the most recycled materials on the planet, and metal siding is often made from post-consumer waste, so it’s a win for the planet on both ends of consumption.
Named after the flagship James Hardie brand, this siding is made from natural materials, wood pulp, sand, and cement. Also known as fiber-cement siding, Hardie planks look like real wood, but are much more durable.
Paint is baked onto this material for a long-term finish that rarely, if ever, needs repainted. Fiber-cement siding is a tree and plastic-free product that breaks down with fewer toxins than other options.
Brick and Stone
Brick and stone construction has been around for thousands of years. These materials are easy to construct from natural elements, and ultra-durable, as evidenced by ancient castles all around the globe.
Brick and stone also offer superior protection from the elements, and excellent insulating qualities that trap air inside. All of these benefits come at a cost—brick and stone are some of the most expensive materials to have installed. However, long-term maintenance costs are low, and they are among the highest-ranking materials for fire protection.
When it comes to all-natural materials, stucco is a clear winner. Plus, the stucco look adds a visual appeal for many. Stucco offers excellent insulation, and holds up well in all weather conditions.
Made from cement, water, lime, and sand, stucco is mostly toxin free, which is good for both the production side and the eventual post-use waste. Though not as expensive as stone, it's a little pricier and more labor-intensive than more mainstream options.