Environmental Sustainable Building
A popular adage within the sustainable building and construction movement laments that concepts are hard to define, the objectives are complex, and implementation is difficult to accomplish. Nevertheless, the global sustainability movement continues to gain momentum, especially in Europe and North America, and sustainable roofing is an increasingly hot topic.
One of the earliest general definitions of sustainable development, by the United Nations Commission on the Environment and Development, dates back to 1987. The UN Commission defined “principles of environmental sustainable development” as: Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
The First International Conference on Sustainable Construction was held in Tampa, Florida, in 1994. Attendees defined sustainable construction as: The creation and maintenance of a healthy built environment based on ecologically sound principles and resource efficiencies.
The definition for sustainable roofing most U.S. experts cite today is the one used in the proceedings of the Sustainable Low-Slope Roofing Workshop held at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in October of 1996. At the workshop, a sustainable roof was defined as: A roof system that is designed, constructed, maintained, rehabilitated and demolished with an emphasis throughout its life cycle on using natural resources efficiently and preserving the global environment.
In their Primer on Sustainable Building Design, the Rocky Mountain Institute maintains that sustainable roofing can be accomplished in five different ways:
1. Recycled content in the roofing product
2. The use of recyclable materials, such as thermoplastics or metal
3. Extended service life
4. More efficient use of energy and other natural resources
5. The actual renewal of natural resources.
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