Using Salvaged Materials to Meet the Living Building Challenge Materials Petal


If your project is targeting Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification, the Materials Petal is probably one of the most challenging Petals to meet. With a list of Red List materials and having to source Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) 100% timber products, the Petal specifications take a lot of time and research by the team.

Using salvaged materials conserves natural resources and eliminates the need for fabrication—reducing the carbon footprint of the building. In this post, we’ll go through the different requirements of the Materials Petal of the LBC and some examples of salvaged materials in the Brock Environmental Center.

About the Materials Petal

The intent of the Materials Petal is to induce a successful materials economy that is non-toxic, transparent and socially equitable. The following 5 imperatives of this Petal strive to make all materials in the built environment replenishable and to have no negative impact on human and ecosystem health.

1. Red List – Living Building Challenge has identified materials and chemicals that cannot be used in any project. These include the following:

Each project targeting LBC certification is required to source building products that meet both the radius and red list requirements. This tends to be a challenging part of the process as it can be difficult to collect detailed material information from the manufacturers. These representatives usually don’t know the information about the materials that  go into their products, or the requested information is proprietary.

2. Embodied Carbon Footprint – The construction process emits carbon dioxide from the extraction of raw materials to the final manufacture of a project. It can include transport of products and workers, equipment use and even land disturbance. LBC requires that the project account for the total footprint through a one-time carbon offset tied to the project boundary.

3. Responsible Industry – The project must advocate for sustainable resource extraction and fair labor practices. Raw materials that can be applied include stone and rock, metal, minerals and timber. However, the timber must be certified to the standards of Forest Stewardship Council 100% labeling and be from salvaged sources.

4. Appropriate Sourcing – The project must contribute to the expansion of a regional economy by incorporating place-based solutions. There is a list of restrictions for materials and services source locations based on distance from the project site.

5. Conservation + Reuse – The team must create a Material Conservation Management Plan to explain how the project optimized materials in the Design, Construction, Operation and End of Life Phases. This helps to reduce or eliminate the production of waste in order to conserve natural resources.

Salvaged materials in the Brock Environmental Center

The project team of the Brock Environmental Center has planned out specifically how salvaged materials will be collected from various sources in the area to meet the requirements of the Materials Petal.

Salvaged wood 

Desk tops and benches will be made from salvaged wood such as a fallen, live oak tree that fell on someone’s property. The tree was cut into 1” and 2” thick solid slabs of wood to be reused in the Center. In order to meet the FSC 100% labeling standards, reclaimed FSC-rated cypress will be used as the siding material for the exterior building wall finish system.

Local business donation

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation reached out to the local community to ask for salvaged materials. One local business donated its old wood doors from its previous facility to be reused as wood doors in the Brock Center. Salem Middle School, a local Virginia Beach school, donated wood from its old gymnasium bleachers that will be incorporated into the interior wood trim.

For more information about the Brock Environmental Center, please visit cbf.houriganconstruction.com.


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