'Green' building relies on plastics

By Don Loepp
Editor

Published: August 2, 2013 2:54 pm ET
Updated: August 2, 2013 3:21 pm ET

Image By: Rich Williams

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.

Brendan Owens, USGBC's vice president of LEED technical development, explains that his agency had specific goals for LEED v4 — reducing carbon footprints and enhancing human well-being. Some products — like plastics — may score well on carbon footprint. But human health is a big factor too. The plastics industry can point to years of experience and research backing up the safety of its products, but some activists feel strongly that certain plastics should be avoided when possible.

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.

Plastics industry officials have been working behind the scenes for years on the green building debate. There's a lot at stake — for the plastics industry, and also for the building and construction sector, and for consumers.

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."


Comments

'Green' building relies on plastics

By Don Loepp
Editor

Published: August 2, 2013 2:54 pm ET
Updated: August 2, 2013 3:21 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

Our latest RESEARCH report examines trends in FLEXIBLE PACKAGING impacting the North American market including a review of economic conditions, key drivers of growth, materials pricing, M&A activity, sustainability challenges and the outlook for 2015.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events