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Environmental comparison of exterior cladding (siding) products

Environmental comparison of exterior cladding (siding) products

how sustainable is…

This envormation summary is based on data from a database with information on the environmental performance of various building products, such as the Global Warming Potential (GWP, in CO2/unit).

The following graph compares the Global Warming Potential (GWP, in CO2/unit) for aluminium, brick & mortar, cedar and stucco. The graph suggests that Cedar cladding has a much lower GWP than all other options considered. Note: the database also contains data for proprietary products, including products made partly from recycled PVC. As their availability is limited, this is not shown here.

cladding GWP comparison graph

Global warming potential of different cladding (siding) products. Source: BEES database

 

Extracted from Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability database.

The following graph compares the embodied energy of these four cladding products in MJ/unit. Interestingly, the data suggests that aluminium cladding contains less embodied energy than Cedar cladding. However, almost all of the extra embodied energy appears to be renewable energy.

cladding GWP comparison graph embodied energy

Embodied energy of cladding (siding) products. Source: BEES database

 

Extracted from Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability database.

Link to database

While we make every effort to be accurate, we do not claim that this summary is representative. Please refer to our Legal Disclaimer for details.

what can I do to reduce my environmental footprint?

From the data presented above, it is clear that Cedar cladding (siding) has the lowest Global Warming Potential while brick and mortar has by far the highest.

While the study is based on US data, it would appear likely that the same is true for other countries as the processes involved in raw material recovery and delivery to site are unlikely to be significantly different. If you are in a position to choose the exterior of your home, and reducing your impact on the environment is a key consideration, avoid brick and mortar and consider cedar if available in your location. If cedar or another suitable timber is not available in your location, consider cladding made from aluminium or, if available, (partly recycled) PVC. While PVC cladding is not included in the envormation summary above as it is not assumed to be widely available, BEES database suggests that while its environmental performance is not as good as Cedar, it is better than aluminium.

However, the above results and comments are based on a number of assumptions. We suggest you visit the BEES database and investigate different options yourself in detail.

Report Rating: 1 out of 3

Report Published: database last updated May 2011

Country: USA

Author(s): BEES, US Dept of Commerce

Publisher: BEES, US Dept of Commerce

Funder: not identified

Keywords: life cycle analysis, LCA, cradle to grave analysis, environmental footprint, building products, cladding, exterior, siding, brick, mortar, stucco, aluminum, cedar

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