Sustainable Building Materials You Need to Know

As people have finally begun to recognize the very real effects of global warming, sustainability has become quite a popular topic over the past couple of years, one that concerns every aspect of our lives. According to Investopedia, “Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The concept of sustainability is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental, and social — also known informally as profits, planet, and people.”

Sustainability is essentially a way of doing things without causing much of an impact on the environment, and when it comes to business, leaders in various industries have started to look for sustainable solutions for completing a task. This includes the architecture, design, and construction industries. New options are becoming available daily, from furnishings and accessories that are mindful of our planet to sustainable building materials, which we will discuss in further detail in this blog post.

The Current Market Trend

The concept of green building is officially a global trend, according to the World Green Building Trends 2018 report from Dodge Data and Analytics, and energy conservation has become a top priority for people all over the globe. This shift can be attributed to consumer demands, environmental regulations, and healthier buildings.

Additionally, the trend is projected to grow exponentially in upcoming years. Elemental Green states that “the percentage of firms expecting to have more than 60% of their projects certified green has grown from 16% in 2016 to 32% in 2018. Building pros report that they expect that percentage to grow to 45% by 2021. With more people building green, more people are also developing innovative, new, green materials to take advantage of this growing marketplace opportunity.”

What Are Sustainable Building Materials?

A sustainable building material is one that generates less waste, uses renewable raw material, and is more durable. The types of materials selected during the design stage of a home or building will have a significant impact on the structure’s sustainability in the long term. These choices have implications for conserving energy as well as improving resilience and comfort.

Take concrete, for example. It’s a core constituent in many homes, public and commercial buildings, and bridges. However, commercial concrete production releases large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere annually, contributing to environmental pollution and global warming. Luckily, there are a handful of sustainable construction materials that present a more eco-centric alternative to concrete in both residential and commercial buildings.

Different Types of Sustainable Building Materials

Building materials typically considered to be eco-conscious include renewable plant materials such as straw and bamboo, certified sustainable forest timber, recycled materials, and other products that are non-toxic, reusable, and replenishable.

Here are some of the most widely used sustainable building materials currently in use:

1. Mushroom Based Building Materials

Mushroom roots, or mycelium, can be used to create “building materials that are stronger than concrete, have more insulating power than fiberglass, and are completely compostable.” An added benefit is that mycelium grows without light underground, so no external energy source is needed for growth.

2. Bamboo

Although it physically resembles wood, bamboo is technically classified as a member of the grass family, which means it regenerates relatively quickly in comparison to trees. Indeed, bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth. This contributes to its sustainability as a construction material. Bamboo can be harvested as often as every 3 years, where trees can only be harvested every 25–50 years.

3. Timber

Timber is arguably the most common building material around. It offers many benefits: strength, flexibility, ready availability, and if sourced properly, renewability. Plus, it’s an easy material to use and only requires fairly basic skills.

4. Strawbale

Derived from natural materials, strawbale is an eco-minded choice for a sustainable, recyclable, non-toxic, and healthy form of building construction.

5. Rammed Earth

This is one of the oldest durable techniques for building structures. Rammed earth is a carefully crafted mixture of gravel, clay, sand, cement, and sometimes lime or waterproofing additives. The contents are mindfully rationed and mixed, and then machine-compacted in removable formwork to yield a stone-like wall that is massive, water resistant, load bearing and long lasting. Rammed earth walls (or floors) can also be utilized as thermal storage, allowing the sun to warm them in the day so they can slowly release the warmth in the cool evenings.

With more people building green, more new, innovative green materials are being developed to take advantage of this growing marketplace opportunity. The above are some of the most common sustainable building materials currently in use.

Learn More about How to Live Sustainably

To learn more about how sustainability plays a part in every aspect of your life, be sure to stay tuned on the Kiwi Energy Blog.

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