Impact of Buildings

So now on to the grim statistics.  Buildings have a huge impact on our environment, and for many of us the most significant environmental impact we make is with our homes, of which Americans build about 1.5 million new ones every year.

Today's home has fewer occupants and more square feet per occupant than ever before.  Statistics from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) say that the average home uses:

  • 13,127 board feet of lumber (about 1 acre of woods)
  • 120 tons of concrete (76 yards)
  • 2085 square feet of flooring
  • 2427 square feet of roofing

 In addition according to the EPA, the construction and operation of buildings uses:

  • one-sixth of the world fresh water
  • more than half of the harvested wood
  • 40% of all material and energy produced
  • 70-80% of US minerals and fibers

Finally, statistics from landfills show that as much as 40% of the waste in a landfill is the result of construction and remodeling.

If this dramatic impact on the planet isn't enough to convince you, we'll add a few about the environment inside the building:

  • Cases of childhood asthma have increased dramatically.
  • There are upwards of 10,000 chemicals in the air in new buildings.
  • As many as 1/3 of all building have "sick building syndrome".