Sustainable Materials

Warm-up: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

(To save paper, display the handouts and picture on an overhead or SMART Board and then email your students copies of the material!)

1.   Display the visual in Reproducible #1 – Railroad Tracks.  Ask students to imagine that the tracks are no longer used and are going to be torn out and demolished.  You can hand out Reproducible #2 – Railroad Tracks Discussion Questions and have the students answer questions individually, in small groups, or as a class. You may want to lead a class discussion without handing out the sheet.  Try to guide the students towards answering that the wood and metal from the railroad tracks could be recycled or reused in another capacity. These discussion questions should be used to encourage brainstorming and to get students to begin thinking about alternative building options.


 Activity One: Sustainable Building Materials

1. Share Reproducible #3 - Sustainable Building Material Reading Handout with the students.  Read aloud or have the students read independently and discuss the presented information as a class. 

2. Discuss the points risen in the handout: the health benefits of green building, the environmental conservation provided, what prevents most people from building sustainably, what could be done to encourage people to buy sustainable materials instead of conventional materials.


Activity Two: Calculating FSC- Certified Wood Costs

1. Share Reproducible #4 - Calculating FSC Certified Wood Costs with the class.  (You can also create an overhead transparency of the sheet in order to help facilitate directions.)

2. Go over directions and first example together.

3. Have students complete sheet independently, then review answers.


Wrap Up: Sustainable Homework

Hand out Reproducible #5 - Sustainable Materials Homework and go over directions. Send students home with assignment of choosing a sustainable material to research. Have them keep in mind the class discussion when answering homework questions. You may want to assign a material to each student, or have them research and choose their own. Consider having students present their materials to the class after completing the homework.


Extension: “Don’t stop here….”

Continue the learning by having students research your state’s incentives for going green.  When schools rebuild or make improvements does your state offer any incentives?  What about when homeowners remodel or build?  What rebates are available to them?  Share your findings with the class.  Consider having your class make a presentation to the principal or district administration.



Students should now be comfortable having a discussion about the pros and cons of green building.  They should be able to give suggestions for greener alternative to traditional materials and site examples of not only the environmental benefits they provide, but the health ones as well.