Chris Kann, Product Manager, Roof Garden & Paver Systems, NVELOP, Carlisle Construction Materials
Over the last several years, the architectural community has ramped up its focus on sustainability to help reduce the environmental impact of their building designs. Unfortunately, the overuse and often incorrect use of the word “sustainable” by building product manufacturers has caused the term to fall victim to greenwashing, losing its original meaning. Many building products that claim to be sustainable may only possess one of the many attributes that sustainable building products should, causing well-intentioned architects and specifiers to be misled while perpetuating poor environmental building designs.
Sustainable building products should provide environmental, social and economic benefits while also protecting public and environmental health over their entire lifecycle. The big challenge for commercial, lowslope roofing manufacturers is creating new roofing products that check all the sustainability boxes while maintaining or improving existing performance. This is mostly due to the chemicals and raw materials that are required to achieve the weathering and performance characteristics of a roofing system. Substitute those proven and time-tested raw materials and additives with more sustainable products and you will have a more environmentally friendly and sustainable product, but at what cost? Sometimes that comes with a negative impact on performance, resulting in a roof system that needs to be replaced more often, negating their purpose altogether.
Through all the environmental and sustainability challenges that we face in the commercial roofing and building envelope industry, we can’t lose sight of the ultimate goal: designing and implementing products and systems that provide the maximum sustainability benefits while maintaining or improving performance. This means taking a holistic approach to product selection and building design. It means considering the life cycle of the products within the design, their impact on the other products being used, the environmental benefits and the resiliency of the system. Read More.