Explore the many ways plants inspire building materials and can reduce negative environmental and health impacts.
As architects search for building materials that minimize negative environmental and health impacts, products containing soy‑biobased materials provide some optimal solutions.Learn More
As compared with petroleum-based ingredients, products made using rapidly renewable soy have a better environmental footprint and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.Learn More
Environmental Consciousness Coupled with Creativity Put Soy Inside Seattle’s Bullitt Center and Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design.
In 2014, students at Medford Memorial Middle School in Medford, NJ began learning that soybeans, like the ones growing in local fields, are an ingredient in a variety of biobased products that benefit their environment.
For the 20 people who work in Ft. Lee’s Building 11108, it’s comforting that the cabinets throughout the building emit no formaldehyde.
The National Conference Center’s leadership saw Yellowstone-inspired biobased carpet as a natural for their sustainability and performance standards.
Yellowstone National Park’s problem with plastic bottles launched an innovative new partnership to use the bottles in American-made soy-backed carpet. It also created a new source of funding for environmental projects at Yellowstone.
From the severe drought plaguing the western United States, to the re-imagining of city parks with innovative and sustainable landscapes, to pesky insects, soy-backed artificial grass is part of the solution.
Inside new or renovated homes and buildings, cabinets, light fixtures and paint colors often capture the most attention. However, what is hidden behind those finished walls and ceilings is one of the most important decisions owners can make.
Washington, D.C. area architects can earn five continuing education credits and see exciting ways plant-based materials contribute to sustainable design. The Architects Go Sustainable with BioMaterials Day offers five back-to-back AIA-approved continuing education sessions.
Interested in learning more about other soy-biobased products?Browse All Products
As architects search for building materials that minimize negative environmental and health impacts, products containing soy-biobased materials provide some optimal solutions. George Washington Carver and Henry Ford pioneered the use of plants in many different materials. Today, U.S. manufacturers of textiles, building materials, cleaning supplies and much more make their products with parts of the soybean, which is a rapidly renewable crop grown every year by more than 570,000 U.S. family farmers. The global demand for soybeans in livestock feed and human food has left an abundant supply of soybean oil for such uses.
Federal government contracts are required to specify biobased products under the Federal BioPreferred® Program that Congress established and is supported by Federal Sustainability Executive Order 13693 “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade.”
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has a policy on environmental responsibility for architects.
The AIA recognizes that building materials impact the environment and human health before, during, and after their use. Knowledge of the life-cycle impacts of building materials is integral to improving the craft, science, and art of architecture. The AIA encourages architects to promote transparency in materials’ contents and in their environmental and human health impacts.
Sustainable design relies on minimizing negative environmental and human health impacts in the built environment. Key principles in sustainable design are:
As compared with petroleum-based ingredients, products made using rapidly renewable soy have a better environmental footprint and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The United Soybean Board developed a peer-reviewed life cycle profile that documents the many energy and environmental benefits of U.S. soybean farming and processing. At the same time, soybeans offer an ever-increasing source of renewable plant feedstocks for building materials and other products. The full peer-reviewed life cycle analysis can be found here.
The life cycle study details how U.S. soybean production significantly reduces greenhouse gases at the same time crop yields are increasing. U.S. soybeans can collectively remove from the atmosphere the carbon equivalent of taking 21 million cars off the road in just one year. Each year, U.S. farmers plant, grow, and harvest trillions of soybeans on the rough equivalent of 60 million football fields. These men and women use satellite technology to guide precise applications. They also employ conservation practices that help store carbon in their soils.
The U.S. Soybean Export Council’s U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol documents how U.S. soybean farmers are producing soybeans responsibly and are continuously improving their production methods to protect and enhance the environment.
According to the EPA, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted by a wide-array of products numbering in the thousands. VOCs contribute to poor indoor air quality and can expose building occupants to harmful chemicals. There are soy-containing products for both indoor and outdoor use which contain lower VOCs and reduce exposures and unpleasant odors.
Soy-containing paint striping materials are available for parking areas.
Soy-containing pavement sealants eliminate the need for coal tar pavement sealers which contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). According to the EPA, PAHS are common pollutants in urban streams and many studies show their negative impacts.
Researchers created soy adhesives after watching the power of mussels to grip rocks that are pounded by ocean waves. Today, these adhesives are found in decorative hardwood panels for cabinetry, millwork, fixtures and furniture. Importantly, this product eliminates formaldehyde in these materials, improving indoor air quality of buildings and avoiding one of the International Living Future Institute’s “Red List” toxic substances banned from interiors of their approved buildings. EPA honored the researchers who developed this soy-based panel assembly approach with the 2007 Presidential Green Chemistry Award. According to the EPA, the technology represented the “first cost-competitive, environmentally friendly adhesive that replaced the toxic urea–formaldehyde (UF) resin.”
Spray foam insulation made with soy as well as recycled materials can be applied to walls, in attic spaces, and under floors in both commercial and residential buildings. The insulation expands when applied to fill all spaces tightly, improving energy efficiency.
Use of entryway matting in the finished building reduces the introduction of particulate matter into the building. Matting with backing systems made of soy-biobased polyols is available.
Broadloom carpet can use a soy-biobased backing system. Renewable and recycled materials can comprise 80% of this carpet’s total weight, according to the manufacturer.
A soy-backing system now offers a biobased choice for indoor and outdoor applications spanning rooftops, playgrounds, and pet areas along with recreational and sports fields. Based on UL third-party verification, soybean oil displaces 60 percent of the petroleum-based polyurethane in such backing. Use of synthetic turf also contributes to a reduction in water use.