Material selection Print

​​​​​​​​​​​​Design Checklist

  1. Use construction methods and materials that have low lifecycle costs
  2. Use materials that are durable, sustainably sourced and do not negatively impact the environment


The selection of appropriate materials and components is important to the overall success of a building, including ​​appearance, building performance and long-term durability.​

The embodied energy and sustainable sourcing and manufacturing of materials are also important considerations.​

Better Design Practice

Specify materials with low embodied energy.​​

Embodied energy includes all the energy used to create a material and includes extraction, manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance and disposal. A Life Cycle Assessment calculates the total embodied energy for a single material or for a complete building. It is a complex calculation due to the many variables involved and as such many products lack comprehensive Life Cycle information. General guidelines for addressing the issue of low embodied energy include:
  • Specify durable, low-maintenance materials and consider future maintenance and repair costs.
  • Minimise consumption and waste e.g. specify standard sizes and use recycled elements or materials.
  • Specify materials that can be reused and recycled at the end of the building’s life.
  • Favour locally sourced materials for their reduced transportation costs.
  • Refurbish, adapt and reuse existing buildings instead of demolishing them.
  • Consider energy consumption over the lifespan of the completed building (this is when most energy will be used). High embodied energy solutions such as ‘heavy’ construction may be of benefit in the long term due to the thermal mass of the building reducing overall heating costs.

Use durable, low-maintenance materials that are compatible with each other and will weather well.​​​

This will minimise maintenance costs and enhance the image of the development and the surrounding area.​

Avoid using building materials that contaminate the environment.​

For example, zinc and copper claddings increase contaminants in urban stormwater systems.​

Ensure raw materials come from renewal and sustainable sources, have zero to low toxicity and emissions ratings.

For example, specifying timber that is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified will ensure that it comes from a managed and sustainable source.​

Select durable materials that are graffiti-resistant and easily cleaned.

Graffiti removal is another cost that can be significant and ongoing for some materials and locations. Minimise maintenance and maximise durability by using robust materials in common circulation areas.​

During construction, give consideration to:​
  • Recycling and reusing demolition materials.
  • Specifying building materials that can be reused and recycled.
  • Specifying project needs modestly and using standard product sizes to reduce wastage.
  • Designing for durability, adaptability and ease of future upgrades.

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