Our planet is changing, and many of us around the world are changing how and what we choose to build with. Green, eco-co-conscious building is gaining ground every day. Implementing sustainable methods and materials new and old alike have a positive effect locally and globally. Recycled materials as well as ancient methods like earthen homes and straw insulation
Rammed earth houses, cork, solar power, and wool insulation are only a few examples. If you are looking to improve or upgrade your home, and want to be eco-conscious in the process, here is a short guide on a few wonderful options.
The two biggest goals in green building are to first ensure you choose materials that minimize environmental impact and secondly promote sustainable energy with those chosen materials and methods.
Earth: Used since ancient times, clay, adobe, and earth have been used in home construction. Many structures in China are using rammed earth for creating beautiful modern structures. Rammed earth houses are also gaining more popularity in areas of the US outside the Southwest.
Bamboo: This incredibly strong, sustainable material is ideal for walls and flooring. While it looks and feels like hardwood flooring, it is a highly processed grass. It is far more sustainable than its wood counterparts due to how quickly and plentifully it grows. Not all bamboo producers (especially overseas ) use sustainable methods of production. Check with the FSC ( Forestry Stewardship Council) to ensure the company you are purchasing from is certified.
Reclaimed and Recycled wood: Using wood obtained from old structures reduces the consumption of new timber, thus also reducing the energy it costs to mill that new wood. Shiplap is one excellent example. Many old structures such as barns have had shiplap exteriors. In recent years, shiplap has become a very tasteful, economical, sustainable way to beautify the interior of your home.
Recycled Steel: Recycling steel instead of smelting new steel can save 75% of energy costs. One study from the Steel Recycling Institute concluded that it requires 40 or 50 trees to build an average 2000 square foot home. It only takes the steel from 6 junked cars to build that same home. Steel is ideal for areas with strong winds and earthquakes.
Plant-Based Polyurethane Rigid Foam : This sustainable product is made up of kelp, hemp and bamboo, Rigid foam is a highly efficient insulator for heat and sound. It is also incredibly resistant to mold and pests. This material is also used in surfboards!