Green Building Materials For Sustainable Houses Of The Future

Green Building Materials For Sustainable Houses Of The Future

- in Architecture

by Bob Gorman- Contributor

Green building and building with green design are all the rage these days, as everyone jumps on board the popular environmental bandwagon to try to help out the ailing planet. More environmentally friendly and responsible way to do things, building green offers a significant number of practical advantages. Here are some of them along with the different materials that are actually green and energy-conserving in case you decide to do more than just talk about going green with your next home or office building.

Green Buildings and Their Advantages

Environmentally friendly building products are the ultimate goal of building green structures. If you want to have a sustainable building that saves money, lasts longer, and helps out the earth all at once, there are several practices that you should start with when construction breaks ground. Where sustainable buildings are designed and built, builders should make their goals all of the following:

Building with ecologically minded building materials and builders – means using reclaimed and sustainable woods and recycled materials in the actual construction.

Energy efficiency – using natural light whenever possible with the help of solar panels, skylights, and photovoltaic batteries and systems. Buildings can be constructed to maximize the available natural light.

Water efficiency – toilets and shower heads would be low flush, while irrigation systems should utilize gray water systems.

Types of Green Building Materials

There are actually a great number of green building materials from which you can choose in constructing a home or office building. Those most considered to be “green” are recycled materials, mud brick and straw brick and also other renewable materials from plants, certified sustainably managed forests’ timber, and other reusable and renewable products which are not toxic. Such additional green building materials include:

1. Insulating Concrete Forms

60 years-old idea that has just received a new lease on life thanks to the scientific uncovering of its energy saving properties is insulating concrete forms. This is frequently utilized in building blocks and free-standing walls. It was the MIT-produced report from 2010 that alerted everyone to the fact that insulated concrete forms actually save a good 20% energy consumption over the old wood frame buildings in colder climates like New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

2. Insulating Foam

There is now a plant-based foam material that is made from kelp, hemp, or bamboo. This rigid foam is employed for furniture, surfboards, wind turbine blades, and insulation in homes and office buildings. As an insulator, such rigid foam provides heat resistance, mold and pest resistance, and high moisture resistance. All of this means that the material is a better insulator with higher thermal heat resistance as an added bonus.

3. Straw Bales

Straw when kept in a dry condition actually endures for literally thousands of years. Bales made of straw bond superbly to plaster walls and stucco, and they offer terrific insulation. A 2,000 square foot house requires around 300 medium sized straw bales in its building.

4. Structural Insulated Panels

Foam-based insulated panels save as much as 50% energy costs versus the majority of other building materials. The SIP’s are constructed with a foam insulation layer that is sandwiched in between two pieces of cement panels, strand board, or plywood. There is a great amount of room for this material’s use to grow, as less than 2 percent of new homes were using SIP’s in 2009.

5. Recycled Wood/Plastic Composite Lumber

Any plastic bags that you have recycled could end up being a covert construction material on the deck of your next house. This is because the use of a 50% to 50% ratio of wasted plastic and wood fiber is far more durable and less harmful to the environment than traditionally treated lumber. Such a building material also offers improved rigidity than simple plastic and lumber combinations as the fibers from the wood deliver extra tensile strength to the final product.

The Importance of Insulation

Insulation is among the most key of sustainable development issues to be considered in the development of a new home or office. Roofing insulation materials are a whole new study on their own. Three types of superior insulation for general insulating in particular are most effective and also environmentally friendly at the same time:

1. Vacuum Insulation Panel

Per the NAHB Research Center, only 1 inch thick panel of VIP, or Vacuum Insulation panel, offers fully seven times more protection than do traditional insulation products. The limitation is that at the present time it may only be utilized for special container systems and commercial and industrial refrigeration. For the future though, this technology looks extremely promising, as the panels may be manufactured in any size or shape.

2. Low Emissivity Windows

Where windows are concerned, one of the greatest inventions is the Low Emissivity Windows. This technology comprises a clear coating metallic oxide that covers windows and maintains heat within the house in winter and without the home during the summer.

3. Earth Insulation & Building

The best and most practical walls insulation is as simple as the dirt under your shoes. Adobe, or rammed earth, delivers the great advantage that the material is widely and freely available and does not need to be shipped out to the job site. On the disadvantages list is that there are few specialists and craftsmen who are certified to build with earth. This is partly because the U.S. has not set up earth as a building material in the building codes like New Zealand, Peru, and China have. Thanks to this problem and shortage of qualified professionals, the National Association of Home Builders estimates that labor costs are an eye-watering $80 for each square foot.

Other Materials to Build Green

There are so many materials with which you can build green buildings. Among the other types that are popular include:

Timber wood



Mud brick

Building green does not have to be expensive and impractical for the average person. The whole idea behind sustainable use of energy and water is exactly that it is more efficient and less expensive over time. Some of the technologies for building green like using abundant, readily available, and free earth, may cost more initially as there simply are not enough available experts in building with these types of material (in the U.S. at least) to go around. The good news is that even these material labor costs are sure to come down as building green is catching on and growing by leaps and bounds.

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