Facilities Toolbox: Sustainability Tools
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How can materials and resources be used more sustainably?


The interior of the Sawtooth
Recreation Area headquarters
and visitor center shows
extensive use of renewable
materials, primarily wood.

Forest: Sawtooth
District: Sawtooth NRA
Region: 4

Sustainable materials are those that have a low impact on the environment because they are made from renewable resources, they don't take much energy to make or use, or they are made of recycled or recyclable materials. The impact of materials on the people who use the buildings or equipment made from the materials is also considered a sustainability issue, so materials that expose people to toxic fumes or substances during manufacture or use are not considered sustainable.

When selecting materials, look for the following characteristics:

For best life cycle value, be sure to compare durability, cleaning requirements, and maintenance cycles when selecting materials.

For assistance in choosing "green" materials, visit the Green Materials and Construction (available only to FS and BLM employees) page of the Forest Service Engineering Web site or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green or Environmentally Preferable Building Materials.

To improve the sustainability of materials in exiting buildings, check out the information in the Building Materials section of Incrementally Greener—Improving Sustainability Over Time Through Operations and Maintenance (Optional link for FSweb users).