Green siding is any environmentally-friendly siding material that is biodegradable, long lasting or energy efficient. A siding material can be considered green if it meets just one of the above requirements. For example, insulated vinyl siding doesn't degrade in landfills, yet it is considered to be a green siding since it lasts 50 years after installation. Similarly, fiber cement siding doesn't cause a significant reduction in heating or cooling costs, but it is durable and long lasting. As long as a siding material decreases the impact on the environment, it is considered to be green siding.
The most popular green siding materials are those that reduce energy costs, including rigid foam sheathing. It is a light weight material that fits onto the exterior wall of a house or building and is typically made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) or extruded polystyrene (XPS). EPS can be recycled and is usually free of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), where as XPS contains CFC, which is an organic compound known for its role in ozone depletion. Both EPS and XPS are manufactured in a variety of thicknesses and feature an insulation value of R-3 to R-7 per inch of thickness. A higher R value means the material resists more heat flow.
Insulated vinyl siding contains a layer of EPS and generally has an insulation value of R-3. It is more rigid than regular vinyl, easier to install, and is recyclable. There is some concern with the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) component of insulated vinyl siding since it doesn't degrade in landfills. Also, a byproduct called dioxin is usually produced during the manufacturing process. This could dissuade customers from installing insulated vinyl siding, despite its energy efficiency and longevity.
Wood siding is a natural siding that is renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable. Most wood siding is derived from sustainable forests and is usually certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI). It has an energy insulation value of R-1, which is considerably less than insulated vinyl siding. Also, wood siding usually requires regular maintenance and refinishing every two to five years, unlike vinyl siding which is low maintenance.
Another green siding material is stucco produced from an earth-lime mixture instead of the traditional cement and epoxy resin mixture. This eco-friendly stucco generally produces a low amount of carbon dioxide emissions during the manufacturing process and is effective at preventing wind from entering a structure. If the stucco is painted, it probably will need to be repainted every five to seven years. It is durable enough to last for the entire life of the house if it is maintained properly.