Today’s builders have many more building material options than in the past. The trend toward being more environmentally conscious is inspiring ideas for using all sorts of unusual products, byproducts and previously-used materials in ways that cause minimal or no harm to the environment or ecosystem in their production, use or disposal.
Benefits and examples of eco-friendly materials
One factor when identifying an eco-friendly building material is its impact on a home’s resale value. Green-certified homes are considered a better investment and the type of insulation used can improve not only the home’s value but also its insulating ability. Hempcrete is one type of eco-friendly building material that is a strong insulator. Made of a mixture of sand, hemp fibers and lime, the blocks are lightweight, fire and pest resistant and composed of renewable resources.
Another insulating material that improves quality of life and has health benefits is sheep wool. It’s also fire resistant, a renewable and biodegradable resource and absorbs pollutants, allowing it to improve air quality inside a home and/or reduce harmful airborne volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
A material’s ability to minimize waste and be biodegradable makes it eco-friendly and linoleum fits that description. (Don’t confuse linoleum with vinyl, which is not eco-friendly at all, due to its composition of toxic, synthetic materials.) Linoleum is made from natural, easily renewable and biodegradable materials including linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour and rosin.
Eco-friendly building materials minimize travel-related pollution and are often created using local resources. Clay tiles and bricks are a good example, as clay is just fine ground natural soil that is soft and pliable when wet but dries stiff and hard. Clay resists salt and heat, is nontoxic, renewable and recyclable and can have a long lifespan when used as a building material.
Recycled materials such as steel, glass, plastic, rubber and drywall all qualify as eco-friendly building materials since reusing them helps stop contribute to creating more of the same products or other unsustainable practices. Turning plastic waste into usable bricks is especially popular in countries where plastic waste is overwhelming local landfills. Cellulose insulation is also eco-friendly as it is largely composed of recycled materials.
Higher quality products that tend to last longer and need less maintenance and upkeep is another qualification of an eco-friendly building material, an example of which is bamboo. Often mistaken for a type of wood, bamboo is actually part of the grass plant family. It is durable and a plentiful and highly renewable resource. Straw bales also offer a long lifespan, have excellent insulating properties and are renewable, recyclable and biodegradable.
Energy efficiency is an important consideration and, as a fast-growing organic material, the use of algae offers an innovative solution. Algae is already being used in air purifying systems to improve air quality by absorbing CO2 and forward-thinking companies are using algae to generate electricity and heat.
The uniqueness of some eco-friendly building materials lend themselves to interesting design opportunities. Cork is an example of such a product that has a multitude of uses. This lightweight material is good for insulation and makes a wonderfully soft, beautiful floor. It’s renewable and resists fire, mold, mildew and termites.
If cost is a factor when looking for eco-friendly building materials, natural stones can be a viable solution. Gathering your own stones from the surrounding area reduces travel-related pollution and is very cost efficient. Stones are easily recycled or repurposed, require minimal care and are extremely durable.
For more tips on selling your Palm Desert home or property contact us at any time.