The types of building materials used should be considered carefully. The construction industry in the UK uses the equivalent of 6 tonnes of building materials annually per head of population. The depletion of non-renewable resources and the excessive energy consumption required for raw material extraction and transportation has prompted greater use of reclaimed materials and products that have a long life expectancy.

There is a growing market for old timbers, stone, slates and roofing tiles, which can often be obtained from demolition companies, (consult Yellow pages). These materials are likely to be of high quality and will help new developments blend into their surroundings but it may be necessary to order them in advance. You should ensure that reclaimed materials are from an approved source. Growth in this market has encouraged architectural theft and unnecessary demolition of important historic buildings.

When new materials are required, it is worth considering their life expectancy and the overall impact of their production. The manufacture of products such as aluminium, steel and plastic requires large amounts of energy. Avoid materials that use high volumes of energy in production, as these are unlikely to be sustainable.

Choose products which are:
  • Produced locally;
  • Recyclable at the end of their life; and
  • Require minimum maintenance and have a long life expectancy.

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