Green Exteriors: LEED Certified Exterior Cladding Options

Exterior Cladding Building

When you're working on a LEED certified building, you know that every material can count towards or against your certification points. But have you considered what difference your exterior cladding can make in terms of points and efficiency? If you haven't, you may be missing out on some great opportunities. Here are a few more details on what type of cladding options work well in LEED certified buildings and what to look for:

It's Not Easy Being Green: Materials to Consider

Vinyl Siding

It's easy to get caught up in only sourcing the most natural options in cladding, but there are many other materials you may not have considered. Sustainably produced wood is certainly one option, especially if you look at naturally rot- and insect-resistant varieties such as cedar, redwood and cypress. Vinyl siding can have high recycled content with low travel miles and directly recycled back into more siding. Fiber cement is very durable, giving it a low maintenance and long life span, partially making up for the high energy costs of production. Brick is another type of cladding that uses high energy to produce, but its lifespan is measured in centuries rather than years or decades. Manufactured stone also has high durability and long lifespan with the same higher energy inputs, but can contain higher quantities of recycled material that raise its score in terms of sustainability.

Layers Upon Layers: How to Build a Wall System

Beyond the very exterior of the wall, what else can you build into the wall system to ensure better certification points? You can add a layer of sheet foam insulation to improve energy efficiency. A membrane can be added to prevent water infiltration into the structure that can cause faster breakdown of structural integrity from rot and corrosion.

Location, Location, Location: Local Sourcing of Material

There are two different places where you can gain points from the location of the material. If the material going into the cladding comes from within a certain number of miles, you can gain points for using the material. But where it's manufactured into the end product is also important, with a similar awarding of points for the manufacturing process being within a certain number of miles of where it ends up being used. It's important to take the time to balance the points for local materials versus recycled content or lifespan points.

Over and Over: Recycled Content

Many materials contain a certain amount of recycled content. PVC vinyl siding can be made of almost 100% recycled plastics and can then be recycled into siding down the road in reclamation. Fiber cement siding can include recycled cellulose content, but make sure you can get certification of where the cellulose is coming from, or you may end up losing points over siding that has been transported from around the world. Manufactured stone can include recycled content and can be broken back down for driveways or sidewalks during reclamation.

Dream in Color: How Color can Affect Your Final Efficiency

Colorful Townhouses

Did you consider how the color of your exterior cladding and trim can affect your LEED certification points? Using a darker color can help gain heat during the winter, especially if paired with a lighter-colored roof. Why? The sun's angle changes drastically from summer to winter. In the summer, it is overhead, so a light-colored roof will reflect the sun's rays away from the structure, lowering air conditioning costs. Winter's low angle allows it to strike the walls of the structure, where darker tones can absorb the heat and lower heating costs.

By keeping these options in mind when faced with the decision of what cladding to use on your LEED certified structure, you can realize serious gains in points and overall efficiency. If you need more information on what exterior cladding options will work well for your project, please feel free to contact us today for more details. At Wallboard Supply Company, we'd be happy to help you find the perfect exterior option for your structure or order in one that will meet your exact needs.

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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.