New Guidance Available on Environmentally Responsible Building Materials

BY EDM | 02 SEP 2016
Key Concepts on Building Material Selection Now Online
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In the past two decades, increasing populations, rising urbanization, economic expansion, emergence of new industrial centers and the reconstruction needs after major disasters are among the factors contributing to increasing demand for construction material around the world. Exponential increase of material extraction, processing and disposal can cause significant environmental and social impacts such as erosion, deforestation, landslides and floods; deprive communities of essential livelihood resources; and put people, infrastructure and ecosystems at greater risk of future disasters.

Practical guidelines for responsible material selection and use for government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector are rare. The Construction Materials Selection and Use: An Environmental Guide aims to fill that gap and provide guidance on better practices for government agencies, civil society organizations, and the private sector for environmentally responsible selection, sourcing, use and disposal of construction material. The guide is specifically designed to provide a general guideline for engineers, architects, project managers and technicians involved in disaster reconstruction projects, but can also be used during development activities.

The Construction Materials Selection and Use: An Environmental Guide developed out of a clear need for guidance on building materials after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. According to the Nepal Rapid Environmental Assessment, the building sector was the most heavily impacted in the aftermath of the disaster. “Approximately 498,852 private houses were destroyed and 256,697 damaged by the earthquake. In addition to houses, approximately 6,200 government buildings, 1,227 health facilities, and 8,300 school buildings were destroyed or damaged.”[1] This sudden destruction resulted in demand for construction materials skyrocketing. Reports of timber being cut illegally from community forests for temporary shelters were common.[2]

New construction and post-disaster rebuilding offers an opportunity to introduce building materials, designs, and construction industry practices that promote safe and environmentally responsible practices. A number of construction materials are available in different regions of the world. If selected and used in an environmentally responsible manner along with employment of responsible construction technology and practices, future construction needs can be met, while creating a resilient built environment.

The Hario Ban Program will release its Nepal specific guide on construction materials called Building Material Selection and Use: An Environmental Guide that will be available for download. An international version and a Sri Lanka specific version of the guide are available by request.

For more information, or to receive your copy please email [email protected]

Learn more about key concepts in environmentally responsible building material selection and use.



[1] Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. Nepal Earthquake 2015: Rapid Environmental Assessment (Kathmandu, Nepal: Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, 2015), 23.

[2] Ibid., 26.


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