Deeper Shades of Green

In previous editions of Modern Materials, we have brought you extensive information about the role plastics can play in the built environment, showcasing products made from various polymers and resins. That said, this issue of the magazine represents a bit of a departure from past formats. Instead of covering various materials and products, we’re taking a more holistic approach: using the overarching theme of environmental, or ‘green,’ building design and construction to see where plastics fit into a sustainable-design paradigm.

Sustainability means different things to different people. Generally, it refers to a concentrated effort to design, build, and operate buildings in an efficient, resource-saving manner. Sustainability is based on the selection of appropriate materials and practices to make a healthy working/living space with minimal negative impact on the environment. At the Plastics Division of American Chemistry Council (ACC), we believe the proper specification of building materials and systems can dramatically affect the achievement of this goal.

As green building design has grown in popularity, so too have the various rating programs that attempt to codify sustainability and certify environmentally responsible projects. Rather than focus on just one of these green-building certification systems, our intent is to look at the various aspects of construction they cover. In the pages that follow, you will find articles dealing with plastics’ role in safe site development, water efficiency, energy consumption, material and resource use, and healthy indoor environments. To help you further understand green-related concepts, we have also included features that demystify such buzzwords as ‘building information modeling,’ ‘life-cycle analysis,’ and ‘heat island effect.’

We think sustainability is an important topic and, judging by your survey responses and requests for further information, we are not alone. Thanks again to the several hundred who took the time to answer our questions. We appreciate your input and look forward to continuing a dialogue in future e-mails and webinars.