Striving to be more environmentally responsible is an admirable trait. The individuals and corporations that put out this effort are helping to contribute to a better future for the entire world. Innovative materials and new techniques make it easier to find alternatives to wasteful practices and questionable products commonly used in the past. There are now numerous examples of sensible construction options.
Adding Green Techniques
Eco-friendly building begins with the design. This includes adding skylights and windows that will capture more sunlight to reduce heating and lighting costs. Efficient plumbing systems that reuse water, capture rainwater and reduce its use through low-flow fixtures is another common step. Improved insulation, materials that last longer and recyclable products also factor into the effort. Cool roofing and green roofing lower energy costs and, in the example of green roofing, help to reduce pollution in water runoff.
Using Sensible Materials
Many structures now include bio-friendly materials that help to save energy costs and use waste materials sensibly. Straw bale construction is a good example. The cost of the bales is low and the product is grown naturally without any extra manufacturing required. The bales are 100 percent recyclable once they are no longer needed. Cork and bamboo are a sustainable flooring material. Bamboo matures in a fraction of the time of other types of wood and cork is made from tree bark and does not harm the tree where it is harvested. Hemp based insulation is also made from an abundant natural product.
Accepting the Unique
Hempcrete is a hemp product that mimics the look and function of concrete. It is significantly lighter to handle despite its durability, is sustainable and is cheaper to transport due to its weight. Grasscrete is a design process where concrete is installed in a manner that will allow grass to grow decoratively among the pieces. This increases green space, lowers surface temperatures and reduces the amount of concrete needed for every project.
Combining the best of old and new technologies produces the most success. Rammed earth homes (adobes) are seeing a resurgence in their popularity and are often paired with new products like Mycelium. This is the root structure of certain fungi and is grown around other materials to make lightweight bricks for building materials. The willingness of home and commercial builders to look beyond the familiar is making the construction industry more sustainable and responsible than ever before.