The Best and the Most Durable Eco-Friendly Building Materials

We live in a world that doesn’t have infinite resources and if we continue depleting them at the rate we have been, we are going to run out of the very things that sustain our lives.

Being environment-friendly has never been more important than today and the good news is that you can be eco-friendly every day and in almost every aspect of your life.

Living in an environmentally conscious manner need not cost much (actually, it will save you money in the long run), and it will make you and your family healthier. So, why not start with your own home?

Have you ever contemplated building your own house with eco-friendly building materials? Here are a few of the most important health- and money-preserving pros of using natural building materials:

  • A home built with environment-friendly materials produces less carbon emissions thus making the environment you live in a healthier one. Additionally, most of the traditional building materials and paints contain so-called VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are known to be carcinogenic and highly toxic.
  • You will save on construction time (quite a lot of it) if you choose eco-friendly building materials. Also, by choosing locally available environmentally sustainable materials you will be supporting local businesses and help eliminate the cost and energy that goes into transporting materials.
  • Production of the conventional building materials often leads to irreversible environmental impacts. Production of eco-friendly building materials results in much less waste to fill the world’s landfills since most of them are reclaimed or recycled.
  • By using environment-friendly building materials you will reduce your operating costs (save on heating bills etc.) and even substantially enhance the chances of re-selling your home faster and at a higher price. A study has shown that “newly constructed homes with energy efficiency and sustainability certifications sold for 8% more on average than noncertified homes while the existing houses with certifications sold for 30% more.”

ecohome2As for the eco-friendly building materials, the following are considered the best and the most durable ones:

  1. Steel – Believe it or not, steel is 100% recyclable. Also, steel will not burn or rot. And let’s not even talk about durability and strength. Furthermore, the Steel Recycling Institute reports that it may take between 40 to 50 trees to build a 2,000-square-foot house if you choose wood as your primary building material. If you opt for recycled steel, “a frame from recycled steel would require no more than the material that comes from six scrapped cars”. Steel framed houses are known for their structural integrity and if you happen to be living in cyclone-prone areas, your best bet would be to build or reinforce your house with recycled steel beams. Last but not least, steel’s high strength to weight ratio means that long column free spans are possible which, in turn, means that minimal material is used in construction.
  2. Plant-Based Polyurethane Rigid Foam – This is a great insulation material and is completely plant-based. The revolutionary polyurethane rigid foam is the brain child of an American surfboard maker who made it from hemp, bamboo and kelp. This all-natural foam has excellent thermal resistance (much higher than fiberglass or polystyrene) and provides good moisture, mold and pest protection.
  3. Straw Bales – The old-fashioned straw bales have made a huge comeback in the world of home construction. The walls made from straw bales are usually 18 inches thick which helps with reflecting sunlight throughout the room. Straw bales have proved very effective in climates where it is absolutely necessary to heat or cool the home. In terms of durability, and provided they are maintained properly, straw bale houses can last over 100 years.
  4. Plastic Composite Lumber – If you have ever wondered where did all the plastic shopping bags go once you were done with using them, chances are they are now a part of plastic composite lumber. Made from 50% wood fibers and 50% waste plastic, this lumber is actually less toxic than the conventionally treated one. Furthermore, plastic composite lumber is resistant to both mold and rot.

These are just a handful of the most widely used and most eco-friendly building materials. Whichever one you choose, you are on the right path of making your own, significant contribution not only to the health of our planet but also to the health of your family and loved ones.

Pix via 1 & 2                                                                                                         Don Broida is the author of this article. 


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