Gypsum Wallboard alternatives?

Our firm has recently completed a few WBLCA studies on renovation projects, and the embodied-carbon elephant in the room is often gypsum wallboard. Of course, we love GWB for its acoustic, structural, fire-safety, paintable properties - but nevertheless, has anyone heard of alternative, climate-smart materials that can match (or almost-match) gyp as a wall finish? Looking for ideas anywhere on the spectrum from feasible to emerging!


Magnesium oxide - search extremegreen or dragon board… might be a few other mfg too. you can get away w/ 1/2" as well vs 5/8" b/c its much more durable than gypsum. only down side is purest MGO is usually mined in china.

ps - ignore the stuff you read about Denmark(incident w/ Chinese mgo), just make sure your mgo is from a reputable mfg. good luck

Hi Alex!

Within gypsum board, you can reduce the embodied carbon by choosing lightweight gyp (reduced water = reduced energy for drying and associated CO2 emissions). You can learn more about that and other ways to reduce embodied carbon of gyp on the Carbon Smart Materials Palette:

For innovations/alternatives, I can’t think of an example that has the same aesthetic look, but one you could consider is wood fiberboard. There’s also a rice/straw MDF being developed in California by CalPlant. I’m not sure how far out from market they are, though I’m sure more people in this community have info on that: @david @chris1


Thank you for the ideas Lindsay - passed on to the design team!

Thank you for the tip Jeff - I’m looking for some EPDs to describe the embodied carbon impacts of magnesium oxide board & potentially compare with gyp. Could you point me to some resources to help quantify the embodied impact of this material?

In Europe there are a few companies that are offering clay based wall boards. I am curious if there are similar products offered in Canada and US, does anybody know? I had asked the company claytec ( if they are distributing in North America a couple of years ago. That time they did not, maybe they do now. Here is a dataset from the LCI Okobaudat database: Clay panel (thickness 0.02 m); 14 kg/m2. This is the UK Greenspec description

You can request EPD from website. Also if you google there’s an LCA available. Hope this helps!

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I am always hopeful that recycled drywall products will get the recognition they deserve. Unfortunately, there are very few EPD’s for these. Please look at: Closed Loop Wallboard – Collaborative — Building Product Ecosystems LLC for possibilities. Also at Knauf: Improving and using recycled gypsum - Knauf.

Food for thought.

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I was attracted to MgO board because it supposedly absorbs carbon during its curing process. I have spent some time researching this and it appears that the MgO market has shifted away from wallbaord and are instead offering an alternative to gyp-crete flooring. It makes a lot of sense here as it provides a cheaper way to get sound and fire ratings in floors. North America MGO is no longer in business and it appears Dragon Board has fallen to the same fate. I did find an outfit in California that is manufacturing it locally - it is called Foreverboard
They also have been focusing on the sub-floor market, but they do offer a wallboard. I am ordering a couple pallets of 1/2" for my small office remodel, and I will let you know how it shakes out. Unfortunately they have not developed any EPD information. 1/2" boards cost about $15/board which isn’t too bad until you add shipping from Bakersfield, which is a killer. For two pallets I am looking at $22-23/board.
In addition, Mitek has been making and MgO board called Triton Board as a tile backer replacing cement board. I have heard great things from tilers regarding this product as it is much easier to handle than Hardie backer. Triton Waterproof Backer Board – Triton Watertight

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