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Home > Green Construction > Product Selection > Recycled Materials
Recycled Building Materials

It is satisfying, fun and economical to reuse old building materials. In our society there has been a stigma attached to the "used" stuff. We value "new" above all else, or at least the advertising forces would have us believe that. Antiques, of course, have acquired their own cachet and their value is hyped, primarily because of rarity. It`s that middle ground of stuff that isnt new and hasnt acquired the status of being "antique" is being discussed here. This is also called recycling.

Recycling by definition is the reuse of materials, either pre-consumer or post-consumer, that would ordinarily be considered waste.

To be a little elaborate consider a definition according to which it is a process by which materials are collected and used as "raw" materials for new products.

There are three steps in recycling:
1. Materials are source-separated and collected.
2. Materials are processed and manufactured into new products.
3. Consumers purchase the goods made with reprocessed materials.

Nature: The use of recycled materials is deeply being associated with the green construction. There are many building products available today that are manufactured from recycled materials. For example, organic asphalt shingles contain recycled paper, and some shingles are made from re-manufactured wood fiber. Cellulose insulation is manufactured from recycled newspaper. 

Alternative building materials can conserve resources, as well. Technologies that allow more efficient use of lumber include stress-skin panels; engineered framing products, such as I-beams, glue-laminated products, and finger-jointed lumber. These products allow for the use of "scrap" lumber that might otherwise be land filled and for use of small-dimension lumber.  

Whenever we can reuse a product instead of producing a new one from raw materials-even if those raw materials are from recycled sources-we save resources and energy. Many salvaged materials used in buildings (including bricks, millwork, framing lumber, plumbing fixtures, and period hardware) are mostly sold on a local or regional basis by salvage yards; some are marketed nationally. Certain salvaged products are not recommended, including toilets, faucets, and windows-because the water- and energy-savings of todays high-performance products offer far greater benefit than any there might be in using the old ones. With salvaged wood products, be aware that lead paint may be present. Test painted wood for lead paint (easy-to-use test kits are available) and, if found, avoid the product or have the wood stripped and sealed.

Products with post-consumer recycled content.
Recycled content is an important feature of many green products. From an environmental standpoint, post-consumer is preferable to post-industrial recycled content because post-consumer recycled materials are more likely to be diverted from landfills. For most product categories, there is currently no set standard for the percentage of recycled content required to qualify for inclusion in Green group; such standards will increasingly be developed in the future as more products begin using higher percentages of recycled materials.

In some cases, products with recycled content are included with caveats regarding where they should be used. Rubber flooring made from recycled automobile tires is a good example-the caveat is that these products should not be used in most fully enclosed indoor spaces due to potential off gassing of harmful chemicals.

Products with post-industrial recycled content
Post-industrial recycling refers to the use of industrial byproducts-as distinguished from material that has been in consumer use. Examples of post-industrial recycled materials used in building products include iron-ore slag from blast furnace metal refining used in making mineral wool insulation; fly ash from the smoke stacks of coal-burning power plants used in making concrete; and PVC scrap from pipe manufacturing used in making roofing shingles. Usually excluded from this category is the use of scrap within the manufacturing plant where it was generated-material that would typically have gone back into the manufacturing process anyway. While post-consumer recycled content is a lot better than post-industrial recycled content, the latter can still qualify a product for inclusion in Green construction in many product categories-especially those where there are no products available with post-consumer recycled content.

Conclusion: it is said that to error is human and to forgive is divine. Who could justify it more than our Mother Nature, because what we do is error and what she bestows is certainly divine. Because of its selfish need, the human-race has went on consuming the natural resources, to an extent that many of them got exhausted. And if we cannot resist their use we needed something via which we could use and reuse them, and recycling was just that.  

It has readily gained importance in the field of construction too. Being cost effective & nature friendly recycling is certainly the practice that is here to stay.

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