In order to achieve a material and energy balance in buildings that is sustainable in the long run, there is an urgent need to assess the renewable and non-renewable resources used in the manufacturing process and to progressively replace non-renewable resources with renewables. Such progressive disinvestment in the non-renewable resources that may be substituted with renewable resources is referred to as “Renewable Substitutability” and if implemented, this process will lead to a paradigm shift in the way building materials are manufactured. This paper discusses the development of a Renewable Substitutability Index (RSI) that is designed to maximize the use of renewable resources in a building and quantifies the substitution process using solar emergy (i.e.
, the solar equivalent joules required for any item). The RSI of a building or a building component, i.e.
, floor or wall systems, etc
., is the ratio of the renewable resources used during construction, including replacement and maintenance, to the building’s maximum renewable emergy potential. RSI values range between 0 and 1.0. A higher RSI achieves a low-energy building strategy promoting a higher order of sustainability by optimizing the use of renewables over a building’s lifetime from formation-extraction-manufacturing to maintenance, operation, demolition, and recycle.
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