Here is a guest post from Rob Jones, chief blogger at flooring and building materials firm BuildDirect. Today, Rob talks about how the building materials industry is changing in the light of sustainable practices. To illustrate, he mentions a specific product that embodies this trend: interlocking deck tiles.
In some ways, it’s fair to say that the building materials industry is very traditionally-minded. But, with this sense of tradition comes the instinct to meet demand, even if it means examining the supply. That’s a traditional business practice which is unlikely to change.
But, this trend toward a more innovative approach when it comes to natural resources is due, I believe, to an increasingly savvy customer base. And what buyers of modern building materials are looking for are products that meet the expectations of sustainability and ethical production, while still remaining to be those which look great and are designed for long-term performance.
I touched on these points in another article I wrote about strand-woven bamboo. But, here’s another product that is also representative of the changing face of the building materials manufacturing sector. It outlines some of the ways that the supply chain is managed, and how products are sourced for long-term use; interlocking deck tiles.
Very briefly, interlocking deck tiles are designed to ‘float’ on an existing stable surface, like a balcony, a pool surround, a patio, or a rooftop garden. They require no staining or sealing, and they’re ready to lay down right out of the box without the need for tools.
This makes them a popular item with homeowners who want a low-maintenance outdoor surface, and with renters who wish to spruce up a balcony, and maybe take up the tiles when they move into more permanent locations.
So when it comes to benefits, that would be the why. Here’s the how. And the how has a lot to do with sustainability and ethical supply chain management, too.
What makes deck tiles a green building material?
There are a number of standards in place that are designed to ensure that these types of products, as sourced from reputable and knowledgeable manufacturers, measure up to customer expectations (and our expectations as a vendor) of environmentally ethics. Here are some of the big ones:
1. Ethical Supply Chain
And here, ethics absolutely includes sustainable, as well as legal, harvesting practices. A significant effort is put into making sure that all partners on the supply chain are vetted for ethical practices. These efforts include tracking systems and documentation that are applied to every shipment, in place to protect natural resources.
2. Use of Controlled Forestry Products
Related to the above, the wood that is used in the making of wood deck tiles is sourced from salvaged timber from controlled plantations. This goes hand in hand with deck tiles being a by-product of another industry, with responsible forestry practices presiding over both.
3. Use of Pre-Consumer Recycled Material
Interlocking deck tiles are by-products of another industry – outdoor furniture. The excess is made into a new product with just as much demand attached, but while making the most use out of a harvested material.
4. Use of durable materials without chemical preservatives: Teak
Teak is a resilient material, with a dense grain. It is naturally suited to weather extremes, and needs no chemicals to make it suitable for the role of decking material. It’s kiln dried before it ships, which bolsters this natural resilience. And after it’s shipped, it is warrantied to retain its original condition up to 25 years.
The deck tiles example above is one of many that illustrate the changing nature of the building materials industry, and the forces upon it that initiate these changes in light of sustainability and business ethics as they relate to the supply chain. The building materials industry, in the light of sustainability, have been inspired (or perhaps even forced, depending on your point of view) to invest in a different perspective when it comes to natural resources. It’s resulted in innovation and evolution. To me, we have a more informed public to thank for it.
Rob Jones and BuildDirect can be followed on Twitter at @BuildDirect. Read the BuildDirect green blog, Green News and Views.
Question: How is using a product to cover up an already existing surface more sustainable leaving the surface as it was?
I can’t say for sure, but I saw this product as an alternative to tearing out an old deck and building a new one… but, yes, refinishing a solid existing surface would probably be the greenest choice…
I think he means that the production process is eco-friendly, and that installation and maintenance don’t require and kind of chemicals. Not my type of product, but hey I guess it’s green! For people looking for more traditional yet green building supplies, I recommend checking out the Sweets Network from McGraw-Hill, my employer. For all manufacturers in their network, they have a section to display any green certification or relevant information. It’s a great resource.