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A while back, I wrote a post titled, “Can Drywall Be Green?” which discussed the aftereffects of the Chinese Drywall crisis that plagued our country earlier this decade.

When it comes down to it, drywall is a convenience product. It is efficient, replacing lath and plaster and therefore saving time and money. However the emissions drywall produces–both in its creation and in shipping–are not exactly environmentally friendly. Until recently, the best way you could make drywall more green was by buying local, or looking into EcoRock (the usability and quality of which could provide another post entirely).

I’m pleased to say I recently read about a new development in “green-er” lightweight drywall in Environmental Building News. They report that multiple companies are producing a product that weighs 25-30% less the standard. While we are commercial builders, I did the math on what this means for the typical home which has an average of about 8 tons of drywall. By reducing the weight, it means  that in a typical residential building year (not like the last 4) the US would save about 400,000 gallons of oil in transportation alone.

The benefits I see include:

  • Easier installation with less fatigue.
  • Lower weight, meaning less energy to ship.
  • Increased sag resistance, allowing the same product to be used in ceilings and walls.
  • Scores and snaps more easily than standard drywall.
  • Less waste and reduced dust.

At this point, the only downsides I see are:

  • Costs slightly more, by about 5-10%, but I believe this will moderate.
  • Some reduction in sound dampening qualities.

Since the developments on this product change are so new, I don’t have any results to report…yet. I can promise that we will be investigating lightweight drywall as we bid future projects. If you have experience with these products, it would be great if you would share in the comments section.

In the meantime, it’s nice to know that more environmentally friendly products are being researched and entering the market.

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Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham, Ala. Contact him via email
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