According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 38% of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States – more than either the transportation or industrial sectors. Buildings also consume 70% of the nation’s electricity load.
A Habitat for Humanity survey (August 2010) conducted by the NAHB Research Center (a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders), polled home builders, as well as consumers, and found the majority of respondents (64 percent) indicated that savings from green home features were sometimes worth the added costs and efforts. This finding was consistent across all income level groups for both renters and homeowners.
Manufacturers across many industries try to promote how green their products are. Fiberglass product manufacturers have no difficulty proving their sustainability claims.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization composed of leaders from every sector of the building industry working to promote buildings and communities that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. USGBC developed the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building certification program, the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings.
LEED credit requirements cover the performance of materials in aggregate, not the performance of individual products or brands. Therefore, products that meet the LEED performance criteria can only contribute toward earning points needed for LEED certification; they cannot earn points individually toward LEED certification.
Buildings account for 40% of all energy used in the U.S. as well almost 40% of all carbon emissions.
By selecting fiberglass as the most energy-efficient claddings, the owner will reduce his total heating and cooling cost. Any savings on energy helps the environment. Fiberglass glass mats and rovings are made from silica sand, a naturally occurring material, which is abundantly available.
Embodied energy is the non-renewable commercial energy (fossil fuels, etc.) that is used to extract and refine materials, manufacture, and transport the product during processing and use.
Fiberglass pultrusions require:
- 75% less embodied energy than aluminum and steel
- 30% less than PVC
The current belief is that greenhouse gases trapped in the atmosphere are warming our planet. Greenhouse gases are a bi-product of fossil fuels, carbon dioxide, and a whole range of gases including the chloride families.
Most of the vinyl chloride produced in North America is used to make polyvinyl chloride PVC, vinyl, and plastic. PVC is comprised of chlorine, carbon, and hydrogen and its resin, of which chlorine accounts for 51% by weight. The production of PVC produces many poisonous pollutants such as hydrocarbons, dioxins, vinyl chloride, phthalates, and heavy metals. PVC emits both carbon monoxide and hydrogen chloride, a compound that is twice as toxic.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (ATSUR), Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, ranks vinyl chloride as fourth in their list of the top twenty most hazardous substances – Substance Priority List (SPL).
A product’s longevity is an important issue when calculating embodied energy. If the product fails prematurely, it negates any greenhouse gas reductions, with the increased carbon footprint created in the process of replacing the cladding, packaging it, and transporting it back to the installation site.
Most fiberglass pultruders use raw materials that have recycled content. Currently, there is an insufficient volume of fiberglass scrap to warrant large scale recycling.
The life expectancy of a fiberglass cladding is estimated at greater than 40 years, which exceeds all the other traditional cladding materials, which means there are no old fiberglass claddings being replaced.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have set a goal of making carbon-neutral buildings a reality by 2030. This means no energy consumed from external power grids.
When fiberglass claddings are designed and specified into projects, the results are:
- energy efficient buildings
- that do not have a negative impact upon the environment
- that reduce the nations energy demand
- provide operating cost savings to the owners,
- and improve the comfort level of occupants.