7 Sustainable Construction Materials to Consider for Your Next Project

Author

Published

Adam Bombini

June 18th 2020

More sectors are paying attention to their environmental impact. The construction industry is a significant contributor to landfill waste, energy consumption, and water and air pollution. Fortunately, from implementing eco-friendly construction trends to using sustainable construction materials, many stakeholders in the construction industry are taking big steps to minimize their impact and reduce their carbon footprint.

If you’re looking to make your construction projects greener and prevent damage to the environment, here are some sustainable construction materials to consider. 

1. Precast Concrete

As one of the top sustainable construction materials out there, precast concrete can help you build a more environmentally friendly structure. 

Precast concrete is made from natural aggregates, including crushed stone, sand, rock, and gravel. As such, it’s a completely recyclable material. Plus, the water used in the manufacturing process is also recycled. 

Because it’s prepared off-site in a controlled environment, it also eliminates landfill waste by reducing scrap and overages produced on site. 

This material keeps providing eco-friendly benefits long after installation as well. Since precast concrete is known to absorb and release heat more slowly than other types of construction materials, it’s often the top material of choice because it allows for greater energy efficiency and more energy savings long term. It’s also a durable material that doesn’t degrade quickly, adding to its sustainability. 

2. Reclaimed Wood

Using reclaimed wood for construction projects helps reduce its embodied energy. However, because it’s a more fragile material type, it’s important to determine the integrity of each piece of reclaimed wood before using it for a new project. 

The right pieces can be used for cabinetry, siding, flooring, and structural framing. 

3. Reclaimed Metal

It takes a lot of energy to produce steel and aluminum. The ore needs to be mined, the products need to be heated and shaped, and the heavy material wastes energy while being transported. 

Using reclaimed metal, on the other hand, allows you to eliminate the extraction and processing of the material, which increases its sustainability. 

As a long-lasting material that doesn’t warp or burn and is pest and water resistant, reclaimed metal is good for structural supports, building facades, and roofing.

4. Bamboo

Bamboo is quickly becoming one of the top sustainable construction materials in the world, in large part due to its fast rate of self-generation. Fewer natural resources need to be depleted when using bamboo, since some species can regenerate so quickly, growing up to three feet in a mere 24 hours. 

This perennial grass also has great durability with even greater compressive strength than brick, so it doesn’t have to be replaced often. It’s also less energy intensive to transport because it’s so light. 

It’s an ideal sustainable construction material for cabinetry and flooring. 

5. Cork

Cork, a type of tree bark, can be harvested from a living tree that continuously grows more cork, making it a highly sustainable and fast-growing resource. 

It’s light, requiring less energy to ship. As a construction material, it’s a great thermal insulator, it’s resilient, and it’s flexible, making it a good option for floor tiles. It also has noise-absorption qualities, making it ideal for insulation sheets, as well as shock-absorbing capabilities that make it well-suited for sub-flooring. 

6. Wool Insulation

Move over polyurethane spray foam and fiberglass insulation, there’s a more sustainable insulation material on the market: sheep’s wool.

7. Mycelium

A building constructed out of mushrooms? It’s possible! Mycelium is a building material made from the root structure of mushrooms and other fungi. It’s encouraged to grow around other natural materials in molds then air-dried to create tough yet lightweight bricks and other shapes. 

Make your next construction project more sustainable with one of these eco-friendly building materials.

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