If your goal is to go "green" in the construction market, plastics have a lot to offer. Plastic building products combine low cost with energy efficiency. That's the plastics industry's sustainability mantra. It's uncomplicated and effective.
But the debate about construction and sustainability isn't that simple, as we see by the development of the latest U.S. Green Building Council's LEED standards — called LEED v4.
The original draft for LEED v4 would have rewarded architects and builders for avoiding "chemicals of concern," such as PVC — a major player in the construction market. Eventually that draft was changed, and the standards instead give builders credit for using "good" materials — rather than for avoiding "bad" ones.
It's the whole precautionary principle idea — and it's a very a tough issue to debate. Keep in mind, no one on either side of the argument is opposed to human health and safety, or sustainability.
So how can an industry argue with critics who say they care more about human health? Can "green" construction and plastics still come together? We're confident that they will.
We all have a lot to gain from having access to safe, low-cost materials that save energy and have a low carbon footprint over their entire lifespan.
Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of "The Plastics Blog."