Today’s savvy homeowner looks for ways to reduce their family’s carbon footprint, invests in eco-friendly products, and observes earth-friendly home maintenance guidelines. Sustainable siding is a smart choice for homeowners because it is durable, long-lasting, easy to maintain, and cost-effective.
What makes siding materials sustainable?
But what exactly does eco-friendly siding mean when you’re shopping for new cladding for your home? Sustainable siding materials are determined by the following factors:
- How long the material lasts
- The material can be recycled
- The material is not toxic or contributes to health problems
- It is biodegradable in landfills
- Is relatively low maintenance, using minimal resources when being maintained
- It has a high R-value (measures its energy-efficiency)
- Is locally sourced and doesn’t require a lot of energy to produce
Fiber cement siding is a sustainable cladding alternative.
Fiber cement siding, also known as Hardie board, is made from natural materials including sand, cement, and clay. They are combined with wood pulp, a recycled material, to bond the elements together, making the siding strong and durable. Fiber cement is pest-resistant, fire-resistant, and moisture-resistant. Because it can be made to look like other siding materials such as cedar, brick, stone, or wood grain, fiber cement is a very flexible, sustainable cladding choice. It is also low-maintenance.
Another aspect of its manufacturing process that makes fiber cement very sustainable is that it doesn’t use as much water as cement does when being it’s produced. Because fiber cement uses recycled materials this makes it a stable siding material, resulting in fewer ways it can be damaged, reducing the need for repairs.
Wood siding addresses sustainability concerns.
As you would suspect, wood siding is one of the top earth-friendly siding materials used to clad houses. Naturally beautiful and textured, wood just seems to instantly boost curb appeal. Well-maintained wood siding lasts 50 to 100 years. Trees are a renewable resource; wood siding can be recycled; and if it is not, it is biodegradable. However, even though it is renewable, the process of cutting down trees and transforming them into siding panels requires a lot of water and energy. When purchasing wood siding check to see if the manufacturer follows sustainable guidelines and practices outlined by organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada and the Sustainable Forest Initiative.
Brick and stone are natural siding materials.
Brick and stone are natural siding materials that are highly sustainable – recyclable, biodegradable, and can be easily sourced locally. While the initial cost of installing brick or stone typically runs quite high (depending on the size of the house), it can last from 100 to 150 years. Both siding materials are extremely energy-efficient.
Metal siding is a solid green choice.
Metal siding, including aluminum siding, is generally manufactured from recycled materials. Both steel and aluminum siding are low-maintenance. Metal siding can be recycled. However, since more of steel siding is recyclable than aluminum, steel would be the greener choice.
Vinyl siding can be an eco-friendly option.
While many advocates for the environment might shake their heads at the thought of a PVC product being even remotely sustainable, vinyl siding is a very cost-effective option when shopping for green siding. Reasons to choose vinyl siding as an earth-friendly siding material are:
- It’s fully recyclable
- Has a fairly long lifespan in temperate climates such as the lower mainland
- Very little waste is produced when it’s manufactured
- Is one of the most lightweight siding materials – reduces transportation costs and installation labour costs
- Using high grade vinyl or insulated vinyl siding improves the energy-efficiency of a home
Installing sustainable siding is important.
As we are dealing with more and more serious consequences of climate change, many of us feel going green is no longer an option. It might seem like it’s too little too late, but anything we can do to shrink our carbon footprint will never be wasted effort. Reasons for installing eco-friendly siding are:
- Reduces environmental impact
- Reduces the amount of waste in the manufacturing of siding products
- Increases a household’s energy-efficiency
- Saves time and money when using materials that last a long time and are responsibly produced
- Supports small businesses when buying locally-sourced/available materials
- Keeps materials out of landfills
- Helps protect the health of those around us by using non-toxic material options and manufacturing techniques