When it comes to designing and creating new homes that are more sustainable and better for the environment, it's important to consider the fundamental materials being used. There are many options out there for projects that want to move away from excessive use of more traditional materials like concrete, which can have a high carbon footprint.
There are always many factors to take into account for each individual project, including what materials are available locally, the design and architecture, and of course the budget, but here are five sustainable building materials to consider.
You might have a particular vision of what a house made out of bamboo looks like and it's probably something found on a beach or in a jungle, but it's also a very sustainable way to build a house.
This is because bamboo only takes 3-5 years to grow, which is much quicker than growing trees. It's also surprisingly strong with a high strength-to-weight ratio and a higher compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete.
Another eco-friendly building material that replenishes very quickly, cork comes from the bark of Mediterranean cork oak trees, which grows back rapidly after it's been stripped off. It's good for use in walls, floors and ceilings and is strong and resistant to liquids (that's why they use it to keep wine in bottles).
If left uncoated it's also naturally fire resistant and can absorb shock and noise, making it a very versatile material as well as one that is good for the environment.
Reclaimed wood has long been a popular sustainable building material because as well as being a lot eco-friendlier than harvesting new timber, it can also be very aesthetically pleasing and ideal for Biophilic interior design.
Recycling metals like steel can save around 75% of the energy costs of producing new steel. Recycled metals can be used for all kinds of purposes, including roofing panels while steel is strong and durable, as well as being the most recycled material in the world.
Straw bales are commonly used as an eco-friendlier alternative to concrete, plaster, wood and other materials for building walls.
Straw is naturally fire-retardant and great for insulation, which also sees it used in attics and ceilings to ensure cooler temperatures in summer and warmer temperatures in winter. Being easily harvested and replaced, it's a very sustainable material all-round.
When it comes to eco-friendly building materials, there are several alternatives to concrete out there that are all-together more sustainable. One is timbercrete, which is a mixture of sawdust and concrete, which has the benefit of being much lighter and less energy-intensive to fabricate.
Another is hempcrete, which is a mixture of sand, hemp fibres and lime, which is also lighter than concrete and comes from fast-growing renewable resources.
Finding the right sustainable construction materials for building a home is becoming ever more convenient and cost-effective, with plenty of options that offer the same benefits as traditional materials with additional properties and the major advantage of being better for the planet.
These are just a few of the most popular green building materials on offer. Sustainability is an important priority for us and you can read more about our Sustainability goals here.