Vinyl Siding & the Environment: Clearing Up the Myths
The problem is that these activists are not telling the whole story of vinyl; they ignore the fact that in many ways, seamless vinyl siding is actually a more environmentally friendly choice than most other exterior siding options.
Lower Manufacturing Impact
Despite the fact that manufacturing requires chemicals, the manufacture of vinyl siding actually has far lesser impact on the earth than that of brick or fiber cement. In fact, the manufacture of brick is almost five times as detrimental to the environment as that of vinyl, when you take into account the entire manufacturing process from mining of raw materials to delivery of the finished product. Even the creation of fiber cement, often considered environmentally friendly because of its resistance to fire, requires three times the resources that vinyl siding requires.
One area in which vinyl siding is the clear winner is the cost to transport the finished materials. Because vinyl is much lighter than other types of exterior finishes, it requires fewer trucks and less fuel to transport. This saves money and lessens the impact on the environment. In addition, installing vinyl requires fewer resources and materials than other types of siding.
One reason that many homeowners choose vinyl siding for their homes is its proven durability, even in extreme weather conditions. On average, most products last about 25 years when properly maintained; high-quality siding does not noticeably fade, crack, warp, chip or become brittle within the first decade, and even into the second or third decade the siding looks new and attractive. This durability means that homeowners don’t need to repair or replace vinyl siding very often, which conserves resources.
Vinyl siding’s durability also often translates to easy care and fewer resources required to keep the siding looking attractive. Often, an annual rinse with water and perhaps a mild, eco-friendly detergent is all that’s needed to keep the siding clean and looking like new. Compared to other materials, which may require regular painting or more intensive cleaning — and more chemicals — vinyl is an easier and more eco-friendly option.
Vinyl siding has been proven effective at saving energy. Most vinyl siding is insulated, meaning that it keeps the home warm in the winter or cool in the summer. Heating and air conditioning are contained within the home and energy is not wasted. In fact, some studies indicate that homes with vinyl siding use between 5 and 8 percent less energy than other homes.
In addition to saving you money on your energy bill, vinyl siding repels pests since it is naturally insect resistant. Many products also feature insulation and backing that is pre-treated with insect repellant and fire retardant.
For some people, a healthy and environmentally friendly home is a primary concern, and they wish to have certification noting that the structure meets certain eco-friendly standards. For example, the most well-known of such certifications, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), is based on a point score, with points awarded based on a number of criteria including the materials used to construct the project. Because vinyl siding is so durable, presents a low environmental impact and contributes to energy efficiency, it scores a higher environmental rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.
While some may still argue that only natural materials, such as cedar, are the most eco-friendly option for home exteriors, homeowners should not overlook the fact that vinyl is not as harmful to the environment as some opponents claim. The durability, energy savings and lower manufacturing impact of the material prove that in the long run, vinyl may in fact be the most “green” choice that one can make.
About the Author: Sam Everett has worked in the construction industry for more than 15 years, building and remodeling homes and helping homeowners maximize their investment. A longtime proponent of vinyl for its excellent durability and attractive appearance, he recommends Smart Siding to all of his clients.