What Makes a Product "Green"?

ST. LOUIS, Mo., April 3 (VNS) – What makes a product “green?”  This was one of the challenging topics at the National Association of Home Builders’ Green Building Conference here. 

And it is the subject of a lot of misinformation, according to speaker Judith Nordgren, director of industry affairs of the Vinyl Institute.                                                                                                                                               

“Some people, businesses and organizations claim to know the one, best path to sustainability, so everyone else should follow them.  But do they really know what is best, or should thoughtful and independent analysis of the life cycles of products and materials be the deciding factor?”  Nordgren asked her audience of builders, architects and manufacturers. 

“Renewable is good,” she said, “but so is durable, energy efficient, lightweight and recyclable.”  All products and materials that reduce the impact of human activity on the environment can be appropriately qualified as green, she said, whether they are “natural” or synthetic.

There is a growing body of evidence, she noted, that synthetic materials like PVC vinyl have valuable and beneficial “green” properties, such as durability, energy efficiency and reducing a building’s environmental footprint.  She noted that vinyl’s life-cycle benefits were well documented, including reduction in the use of fossil fuels and fewer greenhouse emissions.

Nordgren complimented the NAHB on its Model Green Home Building Guidelines and urged it to provide continued leadership.  “NAHB members know what it takes to build durable, beautiful and sustainable homes at affordable prices that make home ownership rates in this country among the highest in the world.”