Green building is the fastest growing sector within the building industry, with many new ecologically friendly products introduced each year, including backer boards, which are now made with recycled materials.

Photos courtesy of USG.

In the United States, building accounts for 20 percent of the 221.7 million tons of trash we toss out daily; that represents over 45 million tons of trash coming from our building sites each day.

The fastest growing sector within the building industry is the push to build more green and sustainable buildings. The federal government and private industry have started to demand it as a legitimate alternative to mainstream construction. Consumers now want it as a viable choice.

Photos courtesy of USG.
Green Building refers to the use of environmentally preferable materials in construction projects. It has been only recently that we have been able to find green building products at home centers, hardware, or flooring distributors.

Home Depot, for example, offers green purchasing opportunities for their customers. In Canada, they have launched EcoOptions, as it is known, which is part of a marketing effort that promotes environmentally friendly products, including mold-resistant drywall. If the program is successful, they plan to roll it out in all their North American stores.

Photos courtesy of Southern Cross Building Products.
The traditionalist view is that green products never outperform their conventional counterparts. This has been true for years but they are becoming a better choice due to high energy rates, expensive raw materials and a relatively slower supply chain from existing vendors due to high demand that have caused regional delays up to 60 days.

One such product that meets and exceeds both performance and economy is the oxychloride cement backer board made with magnesium oxide (MgO). They are made with oxychloride cements containing recycled materials. It is an excellent substitute for plywood underlayment under vinyl or under ceramic tile or stone.

Most tile ceramic tile boards for walls, floors and counter tops are made of petroleum, Portland cement, or gypsum based products. Most of these products are considered pollutants and contributors of greenhouse co2 emissions. Manufacturers understand this and they are making great strides in adding recycled products to the mix like fly ash or consumer waste as additives. For the most part, they have had to compromise integrity when adding these recycled materials.

Photos courtesy of Southern Cross Building Products
Oxychloride cement backer boards substitute magnesium oxide (MgO) for Portland cement. This substitution cuts the co2 emissions in half and has a higher bonding strength for introducing recycled materials. The boards have a high thermal and fire rating as they are non combustible, water proof, and mildew resistant.

Magnesium is organically found in the earth. It is used in animal feed, plant fertilizer, but is mostly used in the United States to insulate fabrication walls in steel refractories. Hence giving it tremendous thermal and fire ratings but also making it resistant to freeze/thaw cycles.

The MgO boards are completely unaffected by water emersion or prolonged exposure to water. This gives it a considerable advantage against mildew or mold. Many insurance companies find this an attractive feature against remediation and offer lower insurance premiums to builders and home owners.

Photos courtesy of Southern Cross Building Products.
Green E-Board, manufactured by Southern Cross Building Products, is a proprietary MgO cement-bonded fiber material. It is composed of specially graded recycled waste that is neutralized and mineralized, and then bonded together with MgO cement. It is lightweight and very durable. It does not rot nor decay. It is vermin, termite and insect proof and does not support fungus growth. Green E-Board is environmentally safe, does not contain nor emit any toxic elements, and is fully recyclable. It contains no plastic, foams or polystyrenes.

It is also lighter and easier to cut than traditional cement boards making it an even better choice for installers. The best part, however, is that it is less expensive than mainstream backer boards.

Another environmentally friendly backer board is USG's Fiberock Brand Aqua-Tough Tile Backerboard, which is made from 95 percent recycled materials. This backer board was awarded Green Cross Certification from Scientific Certification Systems. Unlike traditional water-resistant gypsum board, Fiberock Tile Backerboard derives both strength and water-resistance from its uniform composition. Made of a uniquely engineered gypsum/cellulose-fiber combination, Fiberock Tile Backerboard is strong and water resistant all the way through.

To find out more about Green E-Board please visit For more information on Fiberock Aqua-Tough backer board, visit