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An Endless Cycle
A slower economy and rising energy costs are pushing both buyers and manufacturers of building products toward more “frugal” use of resources. Will we reach the point where landfills become relics of a more careless age?


If economics is "the dismal science," then re-use of raw materials might be called "the frugal science." A major and welcome shift is under way in manufacturing. Makers of vinyl siding, asphalt shingles and concrete, to name just a few, are taking a hard look at what happens to these products when their "service life" ends. Why not put the resources back to work? Doing life-cycle assessments of products, we believe, will soon become standard procedure for everything from windows to paints. That research, in turn, will give consumers what they want: much more detailed info about the real environmental impact of various technologies. Which kinds of heating systems cause the least harm? What's the most efficient and durable way to retrofit a basement? Is fly ash safe as a concrete additive? This month, we've broken new ground by looking deeply at building science topics such as these, that have either been ignored or avoided for too long. Take a look, and if you have additional experience or data to share, let us know.


08.2011
16

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