With the climate change clock ticking, sustainability has become a driving force in consumer purchase habits. Even homeowners are renovating their properties to be more eco-friendly, with some setting their sights on green siding options. Of course, some research is needed. Some exterior cladding types break and warp easily, while others have long lifespans but are destined for landfills after use. There’s a lot to consider, so let’s go over some of the best sustainable siding options on the market.
Green siding options
Not all exterior siding options are created equal. When you consider product lifespan, recyclability, and the raw materials involved, some cladding types are a better choice for the planet than others.
Although no exterior siding is 100% green, brick is an excellent eco-friendly choice . It’s often made from clay, an abundant natural resource that doesn’t contribute to pollution when extracted. While heating clay is a very energy intensive process, the resulting durability more than makes up for it. In fact, some studies have found that brick can last over 500 years!
Replacing this type of green siding usually has less to do with actual deterioration of the brick itself and more to do with the condition of the mortar or building structure. Also, it’s now possible to clean and reuse brick instead of sending it to a landfill during renovation. Among other promising solutions, brick can be made from recycled plastic.
Stone has the same benefits as brick: it’s weatherproof, fireproof, and impervious to mould and parasites. It also needs little maintenance. This exterior siding type is exceptionally durable and requires no chemical treatment. And, since it’s a natural material, you’ll reduce your ecological footprint even more if you buy local.
They say you can recycle aluminum to infinity and beyond, which gives this eco-friendly siding option an undeniable advantage. While a lot of energy is needed to extract bauxite ore and transform it into aluminum, it has a long lifespan – around 40 years! Aluminum siding is available in panels or boards and is easy to maintain.
Exterior wood siding
This green siding option is customizable: you can stain or paint it any colour you please! Wood has the downside of needing regular maintenance, but repairs are relatively easy and the effort you put in will extend the material’s lifespan.
Wood also has several benefits: it’s an abundant natural resource and it can store carbon. Even the production and extraction process causes little pollution, which becomes minimal if sourced locally. If you’re curious about exterior wood siding, check out cedar, pine, spruce, and larch wood – they’re some of the most popular options!
If you want to go the extra mile, source your exterior wood siding from a company that employs sustainable forest management practices. Just look for recognized certifications, such as Forest Stewardship Council, on your green quest.
Engineered wood siding (wood fibre composite)
It’s all well and good to have responsibly managed forests, but it’s even better when you don’t have to cut down trees to begin with.
Despite its name, engineered wood siding doesn’t actually contain any real wood, at least wood in its original state. This eco-friendly exterior siding option is in fact made from 95% recycled waste: wood fibre from sawmills and recycled thermoplastic. The remaining 5% comprises pigments and a mineral filler that binds the components together.
That said, some manufacturers still use virgin plastic materials (instead of recycled plastic materials), which makes this a less eco-friendly siding choice. Find out all the facts before buying this type of exterior cladding.
Exterior siding options that are not as green
From questionable durability and the use of non-renewable resources to extremely polluting manufacturing methods, these exterior siding options are a hard pass!
Fibre cement siding
Much like acrylic, fibre cement siding contains a lot of grey energy, and its manufacturing process pollutes the environment. And while it can last up to 40 years if bought from a reputable manufacturer and installed by an experienced professional, chances are that it won’t reach its full lifespan. In fact, there have been class action lawsuits against major American manufacturers due to numerous reports of cracking, discolouration, flaking, and efflorescence. At best, it’s a risky exterior siding option.
Vinyl siding (PVC)
Beware of those who claim that polyvinyl chloride (vinyl siding) is an eco-friendly product. Sure, it’s light and requires little maintenance, but the advantages stop here. PVC is a synthetic material made of sodium chloride and petroleum, a non-renewable resource. With its low recycling rate, this exterior siding product is among the worst choices an eco-conscious consumer can make.
Finding the greenest siding material
If you’re going back and forth between two house siding options, ask yourself the following questions to determine if it’s really eco-friendly.
What is the exterior siding made of and is it a renewable resource?
Is the material extracted and manufactured locally or in a land far, far away?
Does the green siding option require a lot of energy to produce (e.g., bricks)?
Is the material harmful to the environment or to people?
Does the material have a recognized certification or logo (e.g., Forest Stewardship Council)?
Does it require a lot of maintenance?
What is its lifespan?
Is the material recyclable or biodegradable? Does it create residue when installed?
No exterior siding is 100% foolproof. That said, these factors should help you make a decision in line with your values and priorities.
The importance of proper insulation
If you’re in the market for green siding, take the opportunity to improve your home’s insulation as well. It’ll help cut down on heating and cooling costs, which in turn helps the environment. The best part? The federal government has a grant to help cut down on eco-friendly renovation costs.
Green siding for a greener planet
Choosing recycled, reclaimed, or other eco-friendly siding options for your home helps protect the planet for future generations. You’ll also enjoy substantial savings – green siding is durable, meaning that you won’t have to replace it for a long time, and it’ll protect your home from the elements.