Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Material Evaluation Sheets:
Ethical Considerations for Selecting Building Materials

By Allie Sibole

When architects design houses and contractors determine how to carry out those designs, they make decisions about building materials that have ethical consequences. Aluminum, for example, takes a lot of energy to produce, but it is recyclable. Drywall usually includes gypsum, the processing of which releases harmful particulates.

These ethical evaluations of various building materials were developed for Santa Clara University's Solar Decathlon team. The decathlon is a competition among universities to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. This ethical analysis was a product of the Environmental Ethics Fellowship at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, which is supported by a gift from John and Joan Casey.

Ethical Issues in the Use of Aluminum

Ethical Issues in the Use of Bamboo

Ethical Issues in the Use of Cement

Ethical Issues in the Use of Drywall

Ethical Issues in the Use of Photovoltaic materials

Ethical Issues in the Use of Steel profile

Ethical Issues in the Use of Timber

June 2013


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