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7 Building materials that make excellent environmental sense

Building an environmentally conscious home starts with the selection of a building material that stands the test of time and is sustainable and recyclable. Concrete holds together the present world, but this ubiquitous gray material is a heavy source of greenhouse gases. During the manufacturing process of concrete a large amount of carbon dioxide is released into the environment, which raises issues about its net negative effect on nature. Here are some of the best sustainable options in building materials to consider for your new home.

  1. Hempcrete


A naturally derived material that looks a lot like concrete is rapidly gaining popularity among eco-conscious builders in many nations. The material is created from the woody inner fibers of the hemp plant, which is a fast growing renewable source. The fibers are then bound together with lime to create concrete like structures. The added benefit of using Hempcrete is its light weight. The material is easy to transport and will save money on fuel as well as manpower to install.

  1. Recycled plastic

Two Young People Recycling Plastic Bottles

Watch out for this sustainable innovation in building materials. Researchers are trying passionately to create concrete that contains microscopic ground up plastic granules in it. This idea is a strong step towards utilizing the otherwise non-biodegradable plastic waste that is clogging the landfills. Instead of mining, extracting, and milling new resources and exhausting them, this can be a great way of preserving nature and also recycling plastic.

  1. Wood or bamboo


Definitely a notch above concrete and steel building materials, wood is a holistic choice over industrial products. Properly maintained forests are valuable biodiverse and renewable systems, which can serve as sources for construction products. A material superior to wood in construction is bamboo. While the quality difference is negligible and virtually inexistent, bamboo is derived from a grass that can renew within three years. Considering the costs of sourcing bamboo, many nations have started locally sourcing this building material. It is a lightweight, durable, and rapidly renewing material.

  1. Ferrock


A new research uses recycled material to create a building material that is actually stronger than concrete. Utilizing many materials that are otherwise non-recyclable like steel dust from the steel industry, the material has a unique property of setting. It absorbs carbon dioxide in the air to trap it in its drying and hardening process. This uniqueness of Ferrock makes it environmentally friendly because of its carbon neutral effect.

  1. Straw bales


A byproduct of the grain industry, straw can be used to build beautiful eco-friendly houses. This is extensively been done by Mark Jenson, who is building straw bale houses for North American communities. A great insulator, when kept dry, straw can last for thousands of years. Additionally it also has excellent bonding properties with stucco and plaster walls. This lightweight and environmentally inclined building material is a great substitute for concrete.

  1. Recycled steel


Customized steel panels and beams that can fit like a part of a puzzle with every specific design are a raging trend in the building industry. The durability of a recycled steel beam especially in situations such as strong winds and earthquakes in unparalleled among many other recycled building materials. Because it is a recycled product of steel, it requires 75% less energy than the main manufacturing process.

  1. Earth


Abundant, free of cost, hundred percent natural and pure, with no additional costs of transportation, earth-made houses are accounted for in codes of many countries like New Zealand, China, and Peru. Earth is the most abundant renewable source and also has an excellent thermal mass.

Building materials are the core in the design of the world as we know it now, most of which use concrete. With the recent environmental awakening, the industry is rapidly trying to replace this concrete with environmentally durable and sustainable materials, some of which hold immense promise.

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