In the world of sustainable architecture, there are plenty of ambitious ideas circling around. Between living roofs filled with fruit-bearing trees, miniature homes the size of some people’s walk-in closets and architecture that looks like Frank Lloyd Wright was asked to design sets for Total Recall, it can all feel a bit less than practical.
The good news is that there are plenty of sustainable building technologies and materials circulating around that serve the same functions as their predecessors. With these materials, you can use conventional designs and building techniques but with energy-efficient results that would astound builders from a few decades ago.
In light of these advancements, here are five of the most useful sustainable building materials you could employ on your next project:
Recycled Wood, Metal and More
Recycling programs have advanced to the point where recycled products can make up as much as 50 percent or more of a total building. Recycled wood products resembling oriented strand board can be used to enclose a home’s frame. Metal made from recycled steel can top off the roof. Recycled aggregate can form the bulk of the mixture in the concrete slab.
In short, recycled materials can be used anywhere and everywhere at any stage in the project cycle. Ask your supplier if some of the materials you use regularly can be replaced with recycled versions.
Gorgeous Recycled Finishing Materials
Some recycled construction materials do not have to be hidden behind-the-scenes. In fact, some can proudly tout their recycled status as a part of their unique allure. For example, recycled glass countertops are a premium replacement for materials like Corian or even quartz. These unique and dazzling counters can easily become a selling point for the home.
Another recycled countertop product is known as “PaperStone.” Made from compressed post-consumer recycled paper pulp and a non-petroleum-based resin mixture, PaperStone can provide a tabletop, a counter surface or an architectural accent with a feel similar to slate or poured concrete.
Insulated Cinder Blocks
Cinder blocks are frequently used to bolster a home’s foundation. While the air left in between the blocks can provide somewhat of a barrier between temperature changes, blocks filled with foam or other insulating materials can significantly enhance a building’s R value. Some concrete mixtures even incorporate insulating fillers so that energy efficiency is literally built into the home’s structure.
Sustainable Construction Materials for Finishing
Finishing products like bamboo can replace less sustainable hardwoods for an equally gorgeous and long-lasting floor. Cork is another option, with many choices of texture, color and quality.
Compressed Earth Bricks can be used to help form part or all of the structure of a building. These bricks can also be made on-site using indigenous dirt dug from excavation to cut costs and eliminate the emissions from shipping the materials.
Reclaimed woods, metals and fixtures are immensely-popular products that add decades of charm to a building. These products are in such high demand that, when an old building is demolished, requests for them can get quite competitive.
Sustainable Construction Is What You Make of It
As you can see, your project concept does not have to look like it was out of a 1970’s sci-fi magazine to make a building more sustainable. Doing some quick research can help you track down and adopt some of these techniques and materials into your next project.
Sustainability and the materials that help define it are becoming styles unto themselves, with materials like low emissivity windows and reclaimed wood becoming major draws for occupants. Your business can use this trend to your advantage and look good while helping the Earth breathe a little bit easier at the same time.