Acelab Insights

Sustainable Cladding Options for Small Projects


Wood Siding

Its low-to-negative GWP (Global Warming Potential) makes wood a great option from day one, but its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Wood requires protection and maintenance, which is why some folks avoid it, but that also makes it possible to make wood last much longer than many other materials. You can refinish it, you can pop out a bad board and replace it, you can clear coat it or paint it. With proper maintenance wood can be as renewable installed as when it's grown. You’ve also got good options for disposal through composting, reuse, and reclaiming.

Some of our favorite wood cladding manufacturers

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Natural Slate Shingles

No surprise that another material on our list is also natural. Slate is a stone which has been used architecturally for millennia. Mined materials can get a bad rap, but slate uses tens to hundreds of times less energy because it has no intensive refining, firing, or processing stage. Compared to other stones which share these same advantages, slate wins because it can be installed in thinner, lighter, more economical shingles. Slate is most commonly used on roofs but just as effective as a cladding on walls where, when properly specified, detailed, and installed, slate lasts hundreds of years.

Some of our favorite slate cladding options

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Combining low impact, long life, and biogenic source materials, brick rounds out our list. Brick has two key features: its durability and its lack of chemical or petroleum-based additives. Because of the energy used to fire brick, it has the highest embodied energy on our favorites list but also has the highest potential for reuse and recycling. Bricks can potentially be reused, though there are some limitations that we dive into later on in this article. Bricks provide thermal mass, scale, and beauty - for a long time. For most brick structures, the only maintenance is pointing the joints every 25-30 years

Some of our favorite brick manufacturers

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