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Why be resource efficient?

What is resource efficiency in residential construction?

Homes that are resource efficient conserve natural resources, reduce pollution and waste, provide a healthy environment for occupants, and reduce costs associated with maintenance, repair, and utilities. Resource efficient homes are achieved through high-performance design, environmentally preferred product choices, and best management practices during construction.

Preventing pollution, eliminating or reducing waste prior to material use or processing, is called Pollution Prevention (P2). P2 is critical to resource efficiency and green building.

P2 is: inventory control, in-process recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP), green product substitution, process efficiencies, energy and water conservation, waste segregation and minimization. P2 is not: disposal, end-of-pipe control, pollution treatment.

Why is it important?

Residential construction represents approximately 49% of the value of building construction in America, or over $336 billion. In the United States, there are nearly 80 million residential buildings and an average of almost 1,600,000 residential units built each year.

Home construction and long-term operation require a tremendous amount of resources. With the average square footage of homes doubling in the past 50 years, more resources are used to build and operate them.

  • Building construction and operation is accountable for one-third of all energy use in the United States. Source: U.S. Department of Energy
  • Between the years 1900 and 2000, home residents increased their individual water consumption from 5 to 10 gallons to 50 to 100 gallons a day. Source: National Wildife Federation
  • 43% (58 million tons per year) of construction and demolition (C&D) debris is generated from residential construction, renovation and demolition. This material often ends up in landfills where it occupies space and may potentially cause additional adverse environmental effects. Source: U.S. EPA, Office of Solid Waste, 1996.
  • Construction often degrades water quality in streams, wetlands, and groundwater near construction sites.
  • Building construction, operation, and maintenance contribute significantly to air pollution, which contributes to acid rain, climate change, health problems, and other impacts resulting from degraded air quality.
  • A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that indoor air can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.

For more information on preventing pollution in Residential Construction, check out the Peaks to Prairies Residential Construction Topic Hub.


This showcase is for educational and informational purposes. It is meant to provide ideas and contacts for further assistance. We do not endorse particular products or services. It is the responsibility of the user to check references and facts prior to making use of the information.

The contents of this website are public information and may not be copyrighted in any form, sold or used for profit in any way. The information within the showcase may only be printed when this notice is included and credit is given to the Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Information Center and the individuals cited in each home profile.