By: Lauren Higl
Vinyl siding is currently the number one exterior cladding across the United States and Canada, with many people choosing it for their homes due to its affordability, design versatility, durability and low maintenance. But have you ever wondered how vinyl siding compares to other siding options when it comes to it’s impact on health and the environment?
In the past, it was difficult for homeowners to determine what effects different products had on the environment or the health of their families. Luckily, today there are many forms of analysis that can determine the true impacts that products have. One of these tests is a Life Cycle Assessment, or LCA. An LCA identifies the impacts of a product over its lifespan, including extraction and processing of raw materials, manufacturing, transportation & distribution, use, reuse, maintenance, recycling and final disposal.
We commissioned Sustainable Solutions Corporation to run an LCA on insulated vinyl siding. Two charts from that LCA (shown below) display the low overall environmental impact of vinyl siding in comparison to other siding options, and its low potential of contribution to cancer and other health impacts. To develop these charts, over 200 chemical were assessed. These health impacts are general, based on emissions from the various life cycle stages. As you can see, vinyl siding ranks very closely with natural cedar siding and out performs other options like brick and stucco.
Overall Environmental ImpactFor measuring the potential contribution to cancer, the Toxic Equivalency Potential for each chemical is determined and is displayed in terms of benzene equivalents.
- “Even though the production of vinyl siding and other vinyl products has grown considerably during the past 20 years, the level of dioxin released to the environment has decreased by nearly 90 percent over the same time period.
- “Vinyl siding production is responsible for the emission of significantly lower levels of toxic chemicals, including mercury and silver, than other cladding options. In addition, per the ASTM D3679 standard, vinyl siding certified through the VSI Vinyl Siding Product Certification Program must be free of lead.”