SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 December 2015

Fifty Shades of Green: Gypsum Board Manufacturers and the Evolution of Green Building


Despite, or perhaps because of, the rapid growth of green construction over the past 20 years, consensus over what products are appropriate for use in sustainable building remains in flux. Many factors are at play within the green building movement, including different and sometimes competing green goals and rating systems. Quantifying and evaluating the sustainability of building materials has proven difficult, adding to confusion. However, building on the work of standards setting bodies such as ASTM, tools are emerging that allow consumers to make choices among various building products based not only on performance but also on the total environmental impact of the product itself, including embodied energy, global warming potential, resource use, and pollution caused by or created by the material during its manufacturing process or anticipated life span (or both). This “life cycle analysis” of products allows consumers and their agents or designers to make informed choices and more sustainable trade-offs when selecting building products. The Gypsum Association's recent experience producing product category rules (PCR), a life cycle assessment (LCA), and an environmental product declaration (EPD) for 5/8-in Type X gypsum board offers insight into the sometimes complex process of developing these LCA tools. The association's lessons learned and future plans for providing additional tools for other generic gypsum panel products offer a valuable perspective on a sustainability initiative that is gaining increasing traction among producers and consumers of building products.

Author Information

Meima, Stephen
Gypsum Association, Hyattsville, MD, US
Hines, Susan
Gypsum Association, Hyattsville, MD, US
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Developed by Committee: C11
Pages: 138–150
DOI: 10.1520/STP158820150015
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7622-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7621-8