When designing a home with the aim of being as environmentally friendly as possible, choosing the right materials is the first step. While green design features like energy-efficient lighting and solar panels are well known and definitely useful, a variety of lesser-known green building materials can also have a huge effect on a home’s environmental footprint.
For example, materials like stone, straw, and adobe brick are inspiring renewed interest for their ecological sustainability, and other materials like shipping container scraps, upcycled plastic, and earth-packed tires are creating new possibilities for materials that would otherwise occupy space in landfills.
We’ll detail a few of these materials below, but definitely check out our infographic at the bottom of this post for a complete rundown.
Bamboo has been used for human dwellings for centuries, but it is generating new interest for several reasons.
First, bamboo itself is a healthy part of many ecosystems, providing stability for soil and refuge for many forms of wildlife. Beyond that, bamboo is a sustainable building material, since it grows very quickly and requires relatively few resources. Even though bamboo grows quickly, it is an extraordinarily resilient material: It’s more durable than concrete and some varieties are stronger than steel.
While using sustainable, natural materials is clearly beneficial for the environment, it’s also important for us to find ways to reuse materials that would otherwise be wasted. An example of a relatively new and creative building material is earth-packed tires, which involves taking used tires and filling them with earth bags.
With this sort of material, you can create a unique style of building known as an “earthship home,” and there are even entire communities of earthship dwellers in states like New Mexico. Due to its natural insulation, earth-packed tires can help regulate temperature and reduce the need for electricity.
In addition to recycled and common building materials, environmentalists are also seeking new natural building materials to help fuel sustainable growth. An example of an innovative new material is mycelium, which is the vegetative root structure of certain kinds of fungus.
Mycelium is a sustainable resource, widely available all over the planet and extremely fast-growing. Additionally, mycelium is stronger than concrete, so while it may not yet be commonly used in buildings, it may represent a future in which nature and human dwellings are more tightly intertwined.
Check out the infographic below from The Zebra to learn more about various green building materials.