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Building Materials Environmental Guide - 2nd Edition

  • Published on February 17, 2022

The Building Material Selection and Use: An Environmental Guide provides guidance on environmentally responsible selection, sourcing, use and disposal of building material. It also outlines the potential environmental and social impacts of different building materials throughout their life cycle. The guide is designed for government agencies, private sector companies, NGOs, and community-based organizations engaged in building construction and post-disaster reconstruction. BMEG 2nd Edition was jointly published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Northwestern University. The first edition was published in 2016. 

A large variety of construction materials are available in different regions of the world. Use and extraction of them often cause significant adverse social-environmental impacts. Increasing populations, rising urbanization, economic expansion, and the emergence of new industrial centers are among the driving factors increasing demand for construction material around the world. Building materials required for reconstruction after disasters have further added to growing demands. The exponential increase in material extraction, processing, and disposal can cause significant environmental and social impacts such as soil erosion, deforestation, landslides, and floods; deprive communities of essential livelihood resources; and put people, infrastructure, and ecosystems at greater risk of future disasters.

If builders select and use materials in an environmentally responsible manner while also using responsible construction technology and practices, future construction needs can be met while creating a safe and secure built environment. Environmentally responsible selection and used of building materials include: material effecient design, sustaible extraction, impact assessment, responsible transport, safe/non-polluting/effciient construction practices, and integrated waste management.

The guideline provides informaiton on environmental and social impacts of more than 50 common and specialised building materials, thoughtout thier life cycle. It also provides information on environmental better practices related to design, planning, storage, use, and disposal for common building materials, as well as key environmental costs and benefits. Quantitative information such as embodied energy, CO2 footprint, water usage and several other engineering properties are also provided for each material. The guide also introduces the user to some useful overall concepts for environmentally responsible selection and use of building materials throughout a construction project and material life cycles.

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