The Most Eco-Friendly Home Construction Materials

Reader Contribution by Megan Wild
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Bamboo. Image Source: Pexels

If you’re building a home or an addition to your existing home, be sure to choose eco-friendly construction materials.

There are really two ways to be eco-friendly in your home building materials. The first is to choose materials that minimize environmental impact.

Using recycled materials, for example, always causes less environmental impact than using new materials. If you use a wood construction with new timber, you are essentially putting in an order for trees to be cut down. The harvesting will use energy and remove green trees from the environment. If you use salvaged or reclaimed wood, the construction uses already-cut trees, yielding much less environmental impact.

The second way is to choose materials that will promote sustainable energy. Sustainable, green building naturally insulates homes from both heat and cold. It, therefore, cuts down on energy consumption, leading to less use of natural resources that cause climate change warming, such as oil and gas.

Here are eight of the eco-friendliest home construction materials.

Recycled Steel

Producing and smelting steel takes a lot of energy. Just think of forges and smelters, with sparks flying up to the sky. That’s one of the reasons recycled steel has become an enormously popular green building material. It utilizes steel already in existence for structural use in a home, in beams and girders, for example. The reclaimed steel from six junked cars provides enough recycled steel to build a 2000-square-foot house. Recycling saves 75 percent of the energy costs utilized in making the steel.

Bamboo

Bamboo is increasing in popularity as a building material. It has a great deal of tensile strength and can be used in walls and flooring. It is an ideal building material because it can be used behind the scenes — underneath another type of flooring, for example — and as wall screens and mats. Bamboo is very sustainable since it grows quickly. While trees such as pine and cedar can be reforested, growing them can take years. Bamboo can be reforested much more promptly and grows throughout the world.

Sheep’s Wool

Sheep’s wool, of course, can also be regrown quickly. After shearing, sheep inherently produce a new crop. Clothing manufacturers have long-known the insulating properties of wool, which make very cozy sweaters and socks. The same insulating features can make sheep’s wool an energy-efficient insulator in walls, ceilings and attics.

Source: Pexels

Straw Bales

Straw bales also have fantastic insulating properties. Straw bales are placed in walls, attics and ceilings to contribute to cooler temperatures in the summer and warmer temperatures in the winter. Straw can be harvested and re-planted easily with minimal environmental impact. The making of straw into bales also has a very low influence.

Precast Concrete

Concrete is a natural material that can be recycled, making it an appropriate choice for eco-friendly homes. Also, pre-cast concrete is eco-friendlier than concrete poured on site. It is poured into pre-made molds over rebar or wire, then cured. Once the concrete has hardened, it can be shipped and placed into multiple structures. As a result, precast concrete achieves economies of scale that concrete which is poured on-site cannot.

Reclaimed or Recycled Wood

As mentioned in the introduction, reclaimed or recycled wood has much less of an environmental impact than harvesting new timber. Since many homes and other structures have used wood for several years, it’s relatively easy to reclaim those structures for new home building. Wood can be used in the construction of a home — reclaimed and recycled wood can also be used to make unique floors or exposed beams with an antique look.

Source: Pexels

Earth

Many cultures throughout the centuries have used earth for building. Just think of adobe, which can be dried and painted colorfully for an aesthetic treat. Homes built of earth are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. While earth homes are frequently produced in China and parts of South America, they are far less prevalent in the United States outside the Southwest. Be sure to check that local regulations and zoning will allow an earth home and that local contractors know how to work with it.

Plant-Based Polyurethane Rigid Foam

Rigid foam is often used as insulation material in building. Think of what surfboards are made of — but that material is not environmentally friendly. Enter plant-based polyurethane rigid foam. Yes, it’s quite a mouthful. It’s made from kelp, hemp and bamboo. Because it is rigid — and relatively immovable — it can be used in insulation. It offers protection against mold and pests, as well as sound insulation and heat resistance.  

Eco-friendly home construction materials minimize the environmental impact and can insulate homes well, promoting energy efficiency and reducing reliance on unsustainable resources like oil and natural gas. These eight green and sustainable building materials will make your home ready for a green future.


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