Lumber Prices are Sky high. What’s the Alternative?

Back in 2017, the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) published the results of a green materials survey which asked homebuilders about their level of “green” building initiative. 

Let’s break this down a bit.

According to the report, “Energy efficient windows ranked at the top of the list, commonly used by 95 percent of the builders, followed by high efficiency HVAC systems (at 92 percent). On average builders reported commonly using 10.2 of the green products and practices on the list.”

Nearly half of respondents said they “Never/Almost Never” certify their homes to a green standard (NGBS, LEED, EnergyStar, etc.) and a full 63% all but admitted they are still using lumber in their builds even as a full two-thirds said they use moisture control methods to “improve durability”. 

Only 37% of responding builders said they use “alternatives to dimensional lumber”, but 67% said they use “moisture control methods to improve durability”.

What does “moisture control methods” actually mean? 

Probuilder detailed numerous ways to control moisture in new residential construction, from the type of roof installed to the quality of air flow within the building. However, introducing parts of the moisture-mitigating solutions means the home will not be as secure against moisture as it could be and as it most certainly SHOULD be.

Green building methods cannot remain subjective to the builder’s or buyer’s desires. Instead, the most efficient and sustainable technologies need to be present in every new home being built. 

In fact, what every home needs from this point forward is a total, top-to-bottom, fortification using non-lumber materials combined with high efficiency products and supreme quality indoor environmental monitoring devices to eliminate the inefficiencies of wood as a building material while mitigating consequences of future severe storm impacts such as flooding and the subsequent mold, mildew, materials, and health quality decay; leaking through non-fortified wall-roof-foundation connections; and damage to windows, doors, and other exterior-facing portions of the home.

In short, a “low-e” rated window is fine for energy efficiency throughout the year but is useless when it comes to a water-infused home that has been severely damaged in a severe weather event. 

A home that is LEED-certified for resilience at the gold-level of fortification will provide maximum protection against water incursions, and the best material to use for such a home is a Steel Structural Insulated Panel (SSIP) system that seals the house from roof to foundation, can withstand wind-speed up to 200mph – the high-end of a Cat5 hurricane – and never needs painting or resealing beyond its initial fabrication. 

The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published this statement in a global warming and hurricane study, updated as recently as March 2021, regarding the likely nature of future hurricane activity: “A review of existing studies…lead us to conclude that: it is likely that greenhouse warming will cause hurricanes in the coming century to be more intense globally and have higher rainfall rates than present-day hurricanes.”

Builders must START with fortified green tech in mind, build every home with lumber alternatives like the SSIPs system used by Green Hybrid Habitats, and mitigate storm and environmental damage while creating a smarter and healthier home that will last for generations.

This strategy should be the baseline from which all builders begin their projects. Using alternatives to lumber is just the start. Creating green, smart, healthy, and sustainable homes should be the destination every time. 

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