Gypsum Association member companies are firmly committed to manufacturing environmentally acceptable and sustainable products that not only reflect the use of energy-efficient and progressive manufacturing technology but also contribute to green building requirements.

As an environmentally friendly building material, gypsum board can help architects and builders achieve green building objectives in the areas of recycled content, regional materials and indoor environmental quality.

As a result, credit can be earned for LEED Materials & Resources (MR) and Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) credit categories and well as satisfy International Green Construction Code (IgCC) requirements and other green building rating systems.

Recycled Content

Gypsum board manufacturers employ a high level of recycled content (pre- and post-industrial) in the production of gypsum board through the use of flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) – or synthetic – gypsum for board core and recycled paper for board facing. Percentages vary by manufacturer.

The shipment of gypsum panels requires minimal packaging. Panels shipped by truck are typically protected by reusable tarps and reinforced by nominal banding. Interestingly, the risers used to separate stacks of panels during shipping and storage are manufactured from gypsum scrap and can be reused or recycled.

Regional Materials

Contemporary green standards typically award credits for products that are extracted, processed, and/or manufactured within a specified distance from a jobsite. Some standards provide credits when materials are transported to a specific location using a method other than trucking.

Historically, gypsum manufacturing plants tended to be located near gypsum mines and quarries. However, during the past decade, the increased use of synthetic gypsum has allowed new plants to be built much closer to major population centers. Consequently, a significant percentage of gypsum products distributed in North America are manufactured in close proximity to the building site.

Access to trucking has become more difficult and trucking costs have increased during the past decade. Gypsum Association member companies increasingly take advantage of the benefits of rail to move products from manufacturing facilities to end-user locations. New plants have been located near rail transit. As a result, a significant percentage of the building material produced by Gypsum Association members is shipped by rail.

Indoor Environmental Quality

Gypsum panels and gypsum products are environmentally preferable in a variety of ways. Gypsum panels are indoor air quality friendly as measured by current assessment standards. Gypsum is an inert, non-toxic mineral and, therefore, harmless to human life in either natural ore form, or as a synthetic byproduct of power-generation processes.

To mitigate the formation of mold and mildew, gypsum panel products are manufactured with specialized facings and core formulations. These products also meet GREENGUARD certification requirements for low-emitting materials. Certain gypsum board assemblies meet IgCC acoustic requirements.

Gypsum panel products, joint treatment materials, and gypsum plasters are manufactured at dozens of locations in North America. Because of variations in manufacturing processes, the specific attributes of gypsum panels used to determine compliance with the criteria of green building standards may vary by manufacturer and/or manufacturing facility.

To determine the potential credits earned for use of gypsum panel products or other gypsum-based materials, contact the gypsum product manufacturers during the design and planning process.

Construction Waste Diversion & On-Site Disposal

Contemporary green building standards emphasize the need to limit the quantity of material that flows to landfills. Typically, standards award credits for materials that are readily recycled and/or safely disposed on site using acceptable burial or dispersal methods. For example, The National Green Building Standard, created by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), awards credits when wallboard is recycled.

Gypsum-based materials, including gypsum panel products, meet many municipal or regional requirements for recycling of clean construction waste. Gypsum scrap can be introduced back into the production stream in limited amounts or used as a soil amendment or soil conditioner. In some areas, private operators recycle gypsum panels and provide a steady stream of “re-grind” material to panel manufacturers for making new product.

Information on recycling gypsum waste may be obtained on many websites, including the Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG), a program of the National Institute of Building Sciences. The WBDG offers a Construction Waste Management Database

Clean gypsum scrap is suitable for on-site recycling programs. Several studies have shown that ground gypsum, spread at an even rate over or mixed with the top layer of soil, may be applied at a rate of up to 22 tons per acre on building lots. Machinery specifically designed to pulverize the gypsum to an acceptable size for application can facilitate the process.

Green building standards generally prescribe the extent to which the material must be recycled on-site to qualify for a credit. The NAHB standard, for example, requires at least 50 percent (by weight) of construction and land clearing waste be diverted via on-site disposal to obtain credit. Gypsum Association guidelines for on-site disposal of gypsum panels in residential construction are available in the topical paper Residential Job-Site Disposal of New Construction Waste Gypsum Board.