Design & Construction Guidance
Consider lower embodied carbon panel products where appropriate
Gypsum board alternatives that utilize compressed agricultural fibers (CAF) may present a low-carbon alternative to standard gypsum board. Where code allows, look for products that utilize agricultural waste, such as wheat, rice, and straw byproduct, which sequester carbon during their growth and store that carbon as a building product. These products often require less energy-intensive manufacturing processes, but may not provide the required fire resistant properties that gypsum board does and may require additional fire suppression systems. Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are now available for most panel products allowing users to compare the embodied carbon values of similarly functioning panel products.
Where gypsum board is needed, design to eliminate waste
Designing for deconstruction and designing to minimize waste helps to reduce emissions associated with wasted material, such as landfill emissions and emissions associated with the production of new or replacement material. The following design and construction guidance helps to eliminate waste:
Use fewer different grades and sizes
Specifying multiple types of gypsum board for a project often increases construction waste, in part because some types of gypsum board cannot be recycled together3. Specify fewer different grades and sizes to allow for recycling.
Understand standard gypsum board product sizes and draw each board in design
Gypsum board is available in a variety of standard sizes, though 4 ft wide by 8 ft high is the most common. When designing, draw each board and work out the most efficient combination to reduce off-cutting waste.
Design for deconstruction
Using battens or dry joints can allow for the deconstruction and reuse of gypsum boards. Specify partitions that can be disassembled and reused where possible.
Protect gypsum board from water, moisture, and extreme temperatures
Standard gypsum products must be protected before, during and after construction in order to ensure the longevity of the product, as standard gypsum products are not durable in moisture-exposed applications. When risk of moisture exposure is present, choose products and systems that offer adequate resistance. In areas prone to flooding, use solid wall construction instead.
Identify recycling locations for gypsum board waste
Gypsum board can be recycled into new gypsum products. First design out as much waste as possible, then identify locations to recycle any remaining gypsum board waste.
Reference Whole Building Approaches – Design for Flexibility and Future Adaptation – design interior partitions that can be moved and interior spaces that are flexible enough that they don’t need to be torn down and built out when a building changes ownership.