What kind of water use and treatment are associated with the manufacturing process?
Are significant amounts of water used?
What is the water source?
Are there treatment and/or re-use processes in use?
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What kinds of mediation of ecosystem impacts are being employed?
Are nonrenewable harvest sites being re-naturalized?
Are farms/forests being managed appropriately?
Are water, air, and soil mediation part of an overall management plan?
Is protection of nearby, unaffected lands part of the management plan?
Making Good Choices
Finding the answers to all of these questions can be a daunting task, made even more difficult by the global nature of so much manufacturing. Individual components of a single construction material may involve a complicated supply chain with multiple companies and practices that may be difficult to assess. However, it is critical for those of us striving to minimize our ecosystem impacts when designing a building to ensure that we do our due diligence in this area. Too often, we only look at environmental impacts on our particular building site, and ignore the vast and interconnected webs of impacts that are woven all around the world during
Plastic foam and mycelium insulation share very similar performance traits, but the plastic foam has very high impacts for raw material extraction, high levels of air and water pollution, and creates highly toxic by-products. The mycelium product has almost no harvesting or manufacturing impacts. To achieve low ecosystems impacts in a project, each material choice should be vetted in this way. Credit: A: Styrofoam factory-Shutterstock. B: Myceuum