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When you choose eco-friendly building materials, you help indirect reduction of carbon emissions. Great gesture, we think. The green design methodology further reduces energy consumption as it minimizes energy inputs for heating, cooling, and lighting. And, in the long run, helps you save money too! A win-win for everyone.
So, if you haven’t done it already, incorporating energy-efficient appliances and eco-friendly building materials will help create a better world for tomorrow — for all of us. This is especially important as the cost of fossil fuels will inevitably arise in the near future.
For those who’re new to the world of home construction, an eco-friendly construction refers to building a structure that’s non-harmful to the environment and is as resource or energy-efficient as possible.
The need for this kind of construction has been developed in response to the fact that buildings often negatively impact our environment and natural resources. That’s why the whole idea of using sustainable construction — with environmentally friendly and non-toxic VOC paints, solvents, and building materials — has been gaining ground.
Fortunately, there has been a shift in people’s mindset — with energy conservation a top priority. In the U.S., the shift has been driven by environmental regulations regarding healthier buildings and building materials.
In fact, the percentage of construction companies expecting to have more than 60% of their projects certified green is growing significantly. From 16% in 2016, the percentage is expected to grow to 45% by 2021.
The problem sometimes is that even when you want to buy products for your green home remodel or a green roof, it becomes difficult to distinguish between the genuinely green building materials and those that are just marketing tall claims.
A good rule of thumb is to opt for natural, renewable materials that will help you build a green home with pride. To give you a better idea, here’s a list of the most sustainable building products.
1. Straw bales
Straw bale buildings go back to the days when there were simple houses built using natural, locally-procured materials. Even today, these are a good choice for constructing a home’s walls inside of a frame.
If sealed properly, straw bales are good insulation materials and therefore are perfect for a region with a hot or cold climate. Much like wool insulation. Such a building material can easily replace concrete blocks, wood, gypsum, plaster, fiberglass, or even stone. Since straw is a renewable resource, the bales are not only affordable but sustainable too.
This building material is a great combination of concrete and grass. Basically, the concrete is laid on flooring, walkways, sidewalks, and driveways in such a way that there are open patches to allow grass or other flora to grow in between. Needless to say, GrassCrete reduces concrete usage. Moreover, the building material offers better stormwater absorption and drainage.
Read more: Benefits of using ICFs in your home
3. Rammed earth
There couldn’t be a more natural, eco-friendly building material than the dirt under your feet! If it’s used well (by tamping down very tightly in wooden forms), it gives a feel similar to concrete.
Moreover, modern rammed earth buildings can last a very long time and are safe to use. Their mechanical tampers reduce the amount of labor required to construct sturdy walls.
As the name suggests, hempcrete is a concrete-like material that makes use of the woody inner fibers of the hemp plant. The hemp fibers are then bound with lime to resemble concrete-like shapes.
Surprisingly, the blocks are light-weight yet quite strong. Apart from the fact that hemp is a fast-growing, renewable resource, it’s transportation too is easier, dramatically reducing energy consumption.
Bamboo is not only a trendy building material, it’s eco friendly and available locally too. What’s more, bamboo offers tensile strength and yet is lightweight. You can use bamboo for framing buildings and shelters.
It can easily replace expensive, heavy, or imported materials. It provides a good alternative to concrete and rebar — especially in hard-to-reach locations.
6. Recycled plastic or glass
With new technologies and experiments, researchers are creating concrete-like building substances that use ground-up recycled plastics, trash, or recycled glass. Such material doesn’t just reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it provides good utilization of landfill-clogging plastic and other wastes too.
7. Recycled wood
If you manage your forests well and recycle the wood, you can still ensure a biodiverse habitat. Apart from the fact that trees absorb CO2, the process of converting them into construction products requires much less energy-intensive methods.
Most homeowners and builders still prefer wood over industrial building materials such as concrete or steel. Some even consider it a better building material than brick for homes. For one, it’s more economical. Plus, such houses are easy to build, budget-friendly, and energy-efficient. The only disadvantage is that as compared to brick houses, these are not as reliable.
Mycelium is quite the futuristic building material. But, surprisingly, it’s actually natural and quite strong. Since mycelium comprises the root structure of fungi and mushrooms, it can easily grow around other natural materials such as straw. It’s then air-dried to create lightweight bricks into various shapes.
Ferrock utilizes recycled materials such as recycled steel dust procured from the steel industry. No wonder, the concrete-like building material is even stronger than concrete! What’s more, it absorbs and traps carbon dioxide due to its unique drying and hardening process. So, what you get is a carbon-neutral substance that’s completely eco friendly.
This is again a great concrete alternative. It utilizes fly ash instead of the traditionally used cement. Since fly ash is a by-product of burning coal, the recycled material is not only sustainable but also durable and strong.
This eco-friendly building material is a unique combination of sawdust and concrete. The lighter-than-concrete substance successfully reduces transportation emissions while reusing waste products. The material is easy to shape into building blocks, bricks, and pavers.
Many people building or remodeling their houses are opting for eco-friendly building materials in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint. Such construction materials increase the efficiency of energy while reducing their environmental impact.
So, the next time you’re planning to remodel your house, add insulation properties to your home, get interior and exterior wall finishes, or install new flooring tiles — do remember to select materials and building supplies that are eco-friendly and safe for the Earth.
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