Sustainable building is an outcome of a design philosophy which focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use — energy, water, and materials — while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building's lifecycle, through better siting, design, construction, operation and maintenance. Materials are critical in determining the environmental profile or impact of buildings, but not the only consideration. According to research by the Federal Government, buildings are responsible for significant environmental impacts (30 % of the raw materials used, 42% of the energy, 25% of water used, 12% of land use, 40% of atmospheric emissions, 20% of water effluents, 25% of solid waste and 13% of other releases) (Australian Federal Department of Industry Science and Tourism 1998).
Materials used in house construction impact on almost every aspect of sustainability including:
As well as environmental impacts, which are often hard to locate or quantify precisely such as loss of bio diversity and habitat, there can be significant human health impacts. These range from emissions from products polluting indoor air over many years, to short term high-level emissions in construction (such as painting) through to long-term health issues such as ground-water contamination from leachates from landfill. PHEW! alot to think about when it comes to putting a roof over ones head? Websites for more info -