Regulatory mandates and improved affordability of green, sustainable and eco-friendly materials, leading to them to be used more in construction. Green materials in construction are often attractive to tenants and investors because they can lower the cost of building maintenance while reducing carbon footprints. The following is a list of eco-friendly building materials that can be used for a variety of construction projects.
Materials that Reduce Energy Consumption
These materials are great at reducing net energy use and can be more eco-friendly across their entire life cycles.
Rather than using traditional shingles that require a heavy carbon footprint to make and can poison natural habitats after their disposal. Instead, some builders are switching to what are called solar shingles, which actually generate their own electricity while protecting your home. While their upfront cost can be significant, their efficiency can make up for it over time.
Like shingles, traditional insulation can be environmentally damaging to make and dispose of. An emerging option is polyiso insulation (short for polyisocyanurate), which is rigid foam made of thermoset plastic. It can be used to insulate both commercial and residential structures in their walls, floors and plumbing. It also doesn’t generate dust so it is better for air quality.
Traditional pipes are not energy efficient and allow a lot of heat to escape. The use of PEX pipes for water systems has been common in Europe for a generation as an eco-friendly building material. Its popularity is also growing here in the US. They can be used for retrofitting plumbing systems or as an easy way to replace old, corroding metal pipes. Contractors like them because they can be easily installed and do not need soldering.
Materials Used in Building Frames
The following sustainable building materials are good for constructing the “bones” or frame of both residential and non-residential buildings. They pollute air and water less and can be highly durable.
The use of bamboo in commercial building construction isn’t common in the US yet but it is drawing attention as a building material. It can be used for flooring, building frames and walls. It has a light carbon footprint and is sustainably harvested in several regions around the world. Bamboo lasts longer than similar materials and is relatively inexpensive, lightweight and flexible.
The process of reclaiming wood is dropping in price as the material becomes more widespread and properly processing it becomes more efficient. Across the US, old wood buildings due to be demolished are targets for reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood is considered a responsible way to reduce logging and keep old wood out of landfills.
Ferrock is an alternative to concrete and is created with recovered industrial materials. Ferrock is created by combining steel dust with silica. Liquid in its initial form, it can be poured into a mold and left to harden over time. It is a great replacement material for driveways and can be longer-lasting than concrete.