There are several interesting sidelights when you consider TERM’s termite barrier system.
The first is that termites are of considerable ecological importance. They mostly feed on dead plant material and cellulose (usually in the form of wood), as well as leaf litter, soil, and dung, termites are major detritivores. This means that termites contribute to decomposition and the nutrient cycle.
Of course, if termites are decomposing wood inside our structures, they are doing ecological damage. So it is best to keep them outside of the structure and cause them to go someplace else.
Termiticides are unsustainable in several ways. They pollute the environment, disrupt the cycle of nature, hurt people, and reduce the quality of living inside the structure.
Another sustainability consideration has been pointed out by Dr. John Wargo, Professor of Environmental Policy, Risk Analysis, and Political Science at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Dr. Wargo, makes a good point about indoor air quality:
Comfortable and livable interiors
“One of LEED’s major accomplishments — saving energy by making buildings more airtight — has had the paradoxical effect of more effectively trapping the gases emitted by the unprecedented number of chemicals used in today’s building materials and furnishings…..”
Wargo, J., environment 360 Opinion, 16 Aug 2010, http://e360.yale.edu/feature/leed_building_standards_fail_to_protect_human_health/2306
Dr. Wargo is discussing building materials and furnishings, but his point also applies to pesticides applied around and within the structure during its life. Minimizing the need for, and usage of, pesticides is behind the appearance of LEED prerequisites and credits relating to Integrated Pest Management, or IPM. The intent of IPM, as expressed by the LEED authors is “to minimize pest problems Comfortable and livable interiors and exposure to pesticides”.
In addition to downgrading comfort and livability of structures, the health risk from pests themselves is well documented.
Eliminating pests by using pesticides is well documented, contributing to cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine disruption, kidney, and reproductive problems.
Since it is now possible to address pest and pesticide problems by upgrading the building envelope using TERM® non-chemical barriers, TERM contributes to Integrated Pest Management by allowing designers and builders to reach a new level of sustainability.
Here is another piece of sustainability information. If you visit the website of the International Well Building Institute and search the term “pesticides”, you will find literally thousands of links. Pesticides are a serious sustainability concern.
Note that LEED credit requirements include “Nonchemical pest preventive measures…..designed into the structure….”
See LEED v4 documentation for TERM Barriers: