Updated: Sep 17, 2022
With the inevitability increase in the housing crises and the global climate change, it is more than ever essential to reduce our energy consumption and choose wisely construction materials.
Eco-Friendly building material is a type of material that doesn't harm the environment, whether in its production, use or disposal and can easily be recycled.
Using Eco-Friendly materials is hugely beneficial in the long run. Building a green home reduces carbon emissions significantly and saves energy, which results in saving money on energy bills.
The Most Eco-Friendly Construction Materials:
Image by Hank Nielsen on Pexels
Have you ever wonder what those unusual organic-looking houses made of are? They are constructed of a material called cob which is pretty much a mix of subsoil, water, fibrous organic material (typically longer straw), in some cases lime.
Did you know that the oldest known cob structure is over 10,000 years old?
Due to housing crises and the climate change on top of it, it certainly made us think about alternatives. Cob is one of the materials that's slowly finding its way back.
Besides being environmentally friendly, cob is a natural material super easy to use, and due to its texture, it gives you the freedom to create any shape you could possibly imagine. It creates a natural insulation and is very energy efficient. As a result cob houses require little to no heating.
Example of Cob House:
2. Recycled Steel
Image by Chevanon Photography on Pexels
Recycled steel is a type of material that doesn't lose its properties when recycled. Did you know that steel is the most recycled material in the world? More steel is recycled each year than plastic, paper, aluminium and glass all combined.
Using recycled steel in the building process, you know for a fact that is will be strong and durable. It's a massive saver in energy costs too.
Example of steel in construction use:
3. Sheep's Wool
Sheep's wool is entirely natural and eco friendly material that can be regrown quickly. Wool is best known for being used for cosy warm blankets and sweaters.
But it also plays a role as an outstanding home insulator - with its fibres forming millions of tiny air pockets that trap air. Usually, you can see wool incorporated in the ceiling, walls or attics.
Easy to source, excellent energy-saving material.
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4. Reclaimed , Recycled or Sustainable Wood
Probably one the most used type of building material and for a reason. It is aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, and it feels like nature indoors. Reclaimed or recycled wood has a much lower environmental impact than harvesting new timber.
However, if you are getting a new wood, it is essential to source from a sustainably managed forest. Besides being used in the home building, it's also an excellent material for natural-looking floors or exposed beams.
No wonder it became one of the most used martials in eco friendly architecture.
Being surrounded by a natural material like wood, it significantly increases overall wellbeing.
Cork is made of cork oak tree, which is one of the highly renewable and eco-friendly resources. Another fantastic green buoyant material found its unique purpose in building cork ceiling panels, acoustic wall and flooring. Next time when you open that yummy bottle of wine, remember there is a better place for cork than the landfill.
Cork is a resilient material, resistant to moisture and any liquid (hence the wine). Due to its structure, it can absorb vibration. Cork harvesting can help in the fight against global warming.
Sustainable interior design practise reflects the honest commitment to protecting the environment. In interior design, sustainability is involved in many aspects of a project in order to deliver long-lasting high-quality design with low environmental impact, waste and lowering pollution. Read more...
6. Straw Bales
Straw bales also have high insulating properties. Like wool, straw bales are usually placed in walls, attics and ceilings to keep the temperature stability. As renewable material - straw can be harvested and re-planted with minimal environmental impact.
The straw material is also typically sourced from farmers who are burning off their straw after harvest. Rather than have the straw release its embodied carbon back into the atmosphere when destroyed, which contributes to increasing carbon emissions, repurposing this waste by-product into compressed ceiling and wall panels instead ensures that it retains its carbon content in the most eco-friendly way possible.
Straw-bale constructions are a sustainable method for building, from sourcing to energy efficiency. Apart from bales, straw can also be compressed and made into ceiling and wall panels for insulated cladding in homes. Compressed straw has a huge variety of sustainability benefits including being 100% recyclable and 100% biodegradable. Once straw panels have reached the end of their long life cycle, they can be mulched down and used as compost in gardens or can be recycled back into panels, ready to be used again.
Bamboo is a type of plant that grows back quickly within only 3-5 years. It is 100% biodegradable, antibacterial and Eco-friendly if not chemically processed. Having said that, bamboo makes a perfect choice in the construction world.
Bamboo has high strength because of its fibres running axially.
Example of a Bamboo House:
Image via Pixabay
8. Recycled Plastic
Plastic items take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills, whilst plastic bags we use in our everyday life take 10-20 years to decompose, and plastic bottles take 450 years. It's time to get to give our Planet a well-deserved clean-up and reuse all the plastic that we’ve let flow in our oceans, parks, and homes.
Companies that use a carbon-neutral, non-toxic manufacturing process to make construction materials out of recycled plastic – produce 95% lower in greenhouse gas emissions compared to concrete blocks.
Recycled plastic is a durable and robust material, great at sound retaining. Creating this green circle in using what we already have will significantly reduce the waste in the long run.
Composed of about 97% recycled materials, AshCrete is an environmentally friendly concrete alternative that uses fly ash instead of traditional cement. Next, to fly ash, it consists of borate, a chemical from the chlorine family and bottom ash (fly ash is known to be cost-effective).
AshCrete usually has smaller pores, resulting in better strength, having roughly twice the strength of Portland cement.
The best way to describe ferrock is as a largely iron-rich ferrous rock. It is made from recycled materials like waste steel dust and silica from the ground up glass. When it comes to housing, it is typically used as an alternative to cement. Ferrock is great at absorbing, binding CO2 and overall reducing pollution.
Being used for marine applications such structures exposed to seawater, ferrock is an incredibly hard and resilient material. It is actually five times stronger than Portland cement. It is 10 to 25 percent less weight than a structure made of bricks. The actual process of Ferrock development is very much sustainable.
Photo via isohemp.com
Hempcrete is a mixture of sand, hemp fibres and lime. It is typically used for construction and insulation. Blocks made of hempcrete are super-lightweight and easy to work with. Hemp is a fast-growing renewable resource, which makes hempcrete great for the environment.
Hempcrete is a breathable material that doesn't shrink, so there are no crack lines once it's dried. Even though hempcrete is not stronger than concrete, on the other hand it is fire-resistant, pest-resistant, and a strong insulator.
Photo via isohemp.com
12. Plant-Based Polyurethane Rigid Foam
Plant-based rigid foam is often used as insulation and furniture material. It’s made from hemp, kelp and bamboo, which makes it resilient to moisture and heat. It even has better insulation and thermal resistance than fibreglass.
It's excellent at protecting against mould and pests, as well as sound insulation and heat resistance.
Enviroboard is a fire-resistant board made up of magnesium, sawdust, and fibre cloth. These boards are typically used for wall lining, roof lining, and underlay systems. Environmentally friendly fire board products are stronger than conventional boards and don't warp over time due to their water resistance. Due to its green manufacturing - natural drying and curing process, they don’t release extra carbon emissions.
Enviroboards boards are a versatile and robust product suitable for many uses in construction and refurbishment projects.
Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus fibre that runs underneath the ground. Once it's dried, it can be used as a building material. It has customisable material properties and can replace foams, timber or plastics for applications. It is typically used for insulation, door cores, flooring, and other furnishings.
Mycelium is super strong Eco-Friendly material, water, mould and fire-resistant.
15. Clay Brick
Clay brick is a natural material made from water and clay from the earth. It is entirely recyclable, entirely Earth-friendly, and it doesn't release any toxic chemicals when in the landfill.
Clay brick is an energy-efficient material. In the summer, it keeps a house cooler, and in the winter traps the warmth for a more extended period.
Timbercrete is an Eco-friendly building material made of sawdust and concrete mixed together. The sawdust replaces components within the concrete that are most energy-intensive to produce - which makes timbercrete a green material. It is lighter than concrete or clay, and therefore much easier for transport. Timbercrete can be used in the form of blocks, bricks and pavers.
A better insulator than brick, clay or concrete, highly fire-resistant, very long-lasting.
Example of Timbercrete construction:
17. Recycled Rubber
There are two types of rubber natural and synthetic. Natural rubber is usually made of rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), whilst synthetic rubber is derived from petroleum and goes through a chemical process during production. In this case - natural rubber is the most eco-friendly option.
Rubber can be reclaimed and made into sidewalks, playground surfacing, sports surfaces, and outdoor floor tiles.
It's a soft material that feels great under your feet. Natural rubber exhibits high resilience and tear resistance.
Did you know that the cycle can be reversed and paper could be made into “wood” again? Newspaperwood is made by compressing old newspapers and glue into tin layers until it forms wood grain texture. How awesome is that?
The upcycling process gives new life to what most of us consider recyclable waste. By doing so, it extends the life of paper on a whole other level, using less energy to change its state for new use.
Eco-friendly construction materials can significantly improve the health of our planet and our overall wellbeing. I hope this list has been informative and helpful in making environmentally friendly choices in the future.
Now that we have the bones sorted let's not leave it here. It would be silly not to compliment the home with carefully selected earth-friendly homeware. An oversaturated market makes our shopping experience too complicated when it doesn't have to be that way.
So, to make your decision-making process peace of cake, and check out the article Eco-friendly homeware materials and how to pick your favourite eco pieces for entire home.
If you need further inspiration on decorating each room in your home sustainably, download our free Sustainable Home Guide here.
Thanks for reading!
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