There are many methods to building a structure using green materials that have the lowest impact on the environment. One of the most effective practices of eco-friendly construction is called sustainable materials management.
What is Sustainable Materials Management?
Sustainable Materials Management is the application of reusable materials in a new building, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The productive use of recyclable materials takes advantage of their natural life cycles by maximizing the length of their potential. The goals of SMM is to reduce the amount of toxic materials used in construction and the detrimental impact they can have upon the environment. SMM also seeks to reuse materials in the most productive ways possible in order to use less materials overall, thereby affecting the environment as little as possible, said the EPA.
Countries worldwide are competing for a fixed amount of natural resources, the EPA explained. It's safe to assume that at some point in the future, humanity will run out of natural resources and will have to rely upon our ingenuity. By using building materials to their fullest potential, we are essentially saving natural resources with every SMM effort. Applying SMM helps societies around the globe become more productive and efficient in their construction, while also allowing them to remain economically competitive by saving on needless building costs, the EPA explained.
Why is Sustainable Materials Management needed?
Over the course of the 20th century, the use of natural resources on a global scale spiked considerably by seeing raw material use grow at twice the rate of the population, according to the Annex to the G7 Leaders' June 8, 2015, declaration. Statistically speaking, the use of raw materials rose by 0.4 percent for each 1 percent increase in a country's gross domestic product. Increased use of natural resources has come at the expense of the environment by causing losses in biodiversity, displacing of species, fish hatchery stressing and complete habitat annihilation, according to the EPA. By failing to reuse sustainable materials over the course of an entire century, we have needed to change how we think about material consumption in both the present and immediate future.
What is the Sustainable Materials Management Summit?
In May, the National Recycling Coalition hosted the Sustainable Materials Management Summit at the University of Maryland in College Park, Recycling Today reported. The summit brought together organizations from different backgrounds to discuss how to implement SMM practices into their business plans and help strategize the use of SMM in the future, according to the NRC.
"The summit aims to enrich the value and role of sustainable materials management initiatives in communities across the United States," said Mark Lichtenstein, board president of the NRC, told Recycling Today. "Our ultimate goal will be to assist in the acceleration of SMM as a method of choice for managing discarded materials through action-oriented strategies intended to promote SMM throughout North America."
The SMM Summit brought together companies and organizations to openly discuss four major topics of SMM: tools for job creation, training and certification, business solutions, and programs and facilities, according to the NRC. Rather than a series of speakers, the summit had experts make brief presentations on the best SMM practices, which then lead to discussions between the attendees and presenters on contemporary hazards and strategies, as well as future SMM plans,the NRC stated. This was only the first meeting of its kind, and will be used a foundation for future NRC-sponsered SMM summits.
SMM is an effective environmental practice not only for large organizations, but for small businesses, families and individuals as well. Preserving the environment we enjoy today for future generations means intelligent measures like SMM need to be used by people everywhere.