Alternative Construction Methods Reduce Emissions


by Steve Streetman

e need housing. The U.S. is underbuilt by 5.5 million hous-

ing in the house over its lifespan, and maybe even in the ultimate destruc- tion of the home. An honest assess- ment has to account for the emission effects at each stage in its lifecycle. If we build a house to last for hun- dreds of years, we can reasonably argue to ignore the ultimate destruc- tion and repurposing of the house. And there are many houses that have stood for hundreds of years, so for the moment let’s just forget about that factor. How do we reduce emis - sions enough in the creation of build-

ing materials, the construction of the home, and the use of energy while living in the home to get to net zero? Most of the building materials used in a home are neither particu- larly sustainable nor carbon friendly. From lumber that takes 40 years to mature to asphalt shingles and fiberglass insulation, traditional building materials were not created with sustainability or resource man- agement in mind. However, there are alternatives for these building materials that are


ing units (at least). And yet, we also have a global imperative to reduce emissions into the atmosphere, especially carbon emissions. Is there any way to create this housing with- out adding to carbon emissions? Can we get to “net zero” housing? Any answer dealing with carbon emissions is necessarily complicat- ed. There is carbon emission in the creation of building materials, in the actual construction, in the actual liv-

60 | think realty magazine :: september 2021

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