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.
Allie Sibole was a 2012-13 Environmental Ethics Fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.