A zero-carbon emission home improvement is virtually nonexistent. Most products, even ones that state that it is environmentally friendly, most likely contain some form of carbon dioxide emissions. A carbon footprint is a measurement of the impact that our products, habits and lifestyles have on the environment, through every outlet that it took to arrive to us as a consumer.
These outlets are exponentially increased as products are traced back to their beginnings. For example, the potato in your kitchen was driven from the store to your home and from the farm to the grocer. It also uses gas during farming, pest control and irrigation. Electricity from coal fired power plants process the potatoes at factories. Even the bags that hold the potatoes require vast amounts of fossil fuels to manufacture, ship and bag the potatoes.
The same is true for building supplies. And maybe even more so for building supplies than many other products we use in our everyday life. For instance concrete leaves a huge carbon footprint. After vast strip mining for Portland, limestone and aggregates, these products are dried in giant furnaces powered by fossil fuels. This is done many times on such a vast scale that they make power plants look small by comparison.
So how can you get a building product that has zero-carbon emissions or a small carbon footprint? For starters, purchase locally produced materials. These require less shipping and in turn lower the carbon footprint. Local building materials also provide many small business owners with opportunities that may have otherwise passed them by outsourcing materials.
But how can a true-zero carbon footprint building material be installed on your project? By using materials directly from the building site can give you a zero emission or ultra-low carbon footprint. Soil and other aggregates from the property or nearby can be used for foundations, walls, stuccos, rammed earth barriers and all sorts of other building materials.
But my favorite of all on-site building materials are trees. Wood, bark and leaves can all be used for building materials. Large trees can be cut and dropped on the property by a professional and cut on-site. These large band saws cut and shape large trees of varying lengths for a decent fee, making this option well worth cost and labor. Mulch is an often overlooked byproduct of trees debris. Perfect for landscaping and gardens, natural mulch are created on-site and produces a very small carbon footprint.
If you are interested in finding out what your carbon footprint is visit www.carbonfootprint.com for a detailed audit of your products, lifestyle and home improvements. Not only will you add value to your home by using zero-carbon emission building products, you’ll add green value as well.