During construction, you can minimize the impact on our environment by choosing sustainable building materials. These are often materials that require less manufacturing and transportation, effectively reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels. They are also materials that are durable, non-toxic, and sometimes recycled. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the more sustainable construction materials.
Shaping steel into beams, columns, and panels does require a manufacturing process. However, steel is extremely durable and 100% recyclable. It can be repurposed easily. For instance, when a steel structure is demolished, all of the steel can be processed into new building components for another project. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel is the world’s most recycled material.
Wood that has been salvaged from older buildings, especially barns, is an ideal material for a sustainable project for a couple of reasons. Older wood, such as timbers, flooring, and siding, is much denser and generally a thicker cut than today’s wood components. This wood was harvested from old growth forests and dried naturally in the sun, making it very strong. It is also attractive when used as an exposed element in your finished design.
Recycled Rubber Tires
You may have noticed that modern fitness centers, gyms, and playgrounds have floors covered with interlocking tiles that resist impact. These are often made from the rubber of discarded tires. The rubber is recycled and can be used to make roofing shingles and flooring. Some Public Works departments add the rubber from tires to asphalt paving for highways. This helps to lower the capacity of landfills and makes the asphalt better able to expand and contract with changes in weather.
Not many people realize that bamboo is considered an invasive weed, especially in the United States. It became a popular plant to define and enclose properties for privacy. However, it grows quickly and densely if not managed. The good thing is that this plant is so easy to grow, has a considerable amount of tensile strength, and is very attractive when used for flooring, furniture, and wall treatments.
There are many other sustainable construction materials available, including earth (adobe), hay bales, plant-based insulation, concrete, and glass, to name a few.