Having It All

Creating a circular economy in residential construction
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Sponsored by Bison Innovative Products, CRL, and Propane Energy for Everyone
By Amada Voss, MPP
This test is no longer available for credit


Using deck and exterior products that have a modular design for surface materials and accessories allows designers to fulfil an abundance of different design visions without the need for custom or costly materials. Harnessing the power of recycled and certified materials, modular decks bring additional advantages to the table. Offering tremendous design flexibility, coupled with ease of installation, adjustable pedestal deck systems provide a unique and viable alternative to traditional deck building materials and methods. Pedestal decks can be used in a variety of spaces- balconies, rooftops, and/or on-grade applications. Modular decks installed with a pedestal system provide the opportunity to turn underutilized or wasted outdoor spaces into a functional amenity, extending indoor living space or generating an outdoor oasis of its own.

Modular deck systems offer quick and easy installation. Fastening kits facilitate secure installations of wood tiles and paver-tray-backed pavers without harm to the tiles or pavers. Built-in bottom slope-leveling mechanisms provide pedestal stability and adjustability, even once loaded. Tab sets on each pedestal allow for consistent tile or paver spacing.

Circular Materials Durable Enough for the Exterior

Leading manufacturers have created wood deck tiles that are commercial grade and available in standard and FSC® Certified options. Wood tiles are crafted from premium grade remnants and material harvested in an environmentally responsible method, and are designed to preserve the economic viability of rainforest hardwoods. Wood species include fused bamboo, cumaru, garapa, ipê, itauba, and tigerwood. Tropical hardwoods contain a rich variety of graining and coloration, are exceptionally dense, and resistant to insects. These commercial-grade, high-density wood species weather well, allowing for minimal maintenance. If maintaining the wood color is desired, wood tiles can be periodically cleaned and sealed. Left to weather naturally, the wood tiles will develop a silvery-gray patina. Weighing one third as much as concrete tiles, wood tiles are a good alternative when surface material weight is a factor.

When combined with pedestals, wood tiles offer one of the most labor- and cost-efficient methods of creating a flat, level deck over a sloped sub-surface. Manufacturers today offer domestically made pedestals constructed out of high-density polypropylene plastic, comprised of 20% post-industrial recycled content, that are also 100% recyclable. Pedestal deck support systems are impervious to water, mold, and freeze-thaw cycles. Using a gravity system, the supports protect roofing membranes and waterproofing and do not damage or harm the surface below. Pedestal systems can support decks over occupied space, allowing cavity space for electrical systems, duct work, and irrigation. Deck supports are designed to elevate a variety of substrates, including granite or concrete pavers, wood tiles, composite materials, fiberglass grating, or conventional wood decking systems.

Modular decking naturally accommodates site furnishing, including planters and seating or storage. These modular units are designed to integrate perfectly with modular pavers in a pedestal deck system, making it easy to design a custom, beautiful outdoor environment. Modular cubes can host plant life in the summer and be repurposed for seating and storage in the winter. Lightweight, durable powder-coated aluminum modular trays expand the design options for rooftop environments. Used as a containment system for architectural rocks or other deck elements, low clearance trays work with the modular pedestal system to add dimension and texture to deck areas. Incorporating a pedestal system can provide pedestrian access to green roofs.

Besides recycled and recyclable content, modular pedestal decks provide passive solar heating and cooling. Pedestal deck systems can help reduce cooling loads of the building structure because they are air permeable.


Using propane as a fuel or energy source means harnessing an available clean technology to reduce emissions while still meeting energy needs. Propane is clean and nontoxic. Propane is abundantly available, and the growth of renewable propane means it can be used for generations to come.

Both high-efficiency propane furnaces and propane tankless water heaters can be key components in earning the LEED for Homes (LEED H v4) and the 2015 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) certifications for a home. High-efficiency propane furnaces and water heaters can reduce a home’s HERS Index by anywhere from 9 to 14 points.


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in August 2022