Each year the population increases, and innovative building designs are forced to grow with it. As exciting innovations like 3D virtual reality and self-driving technologies surface in the construction industry, developers can refocus their attention on a new priority: sustainability.
Using eco-friendly materials, buildings can be built to last for generations. Not only can builders aid in the earth’s healthfulness by using sustainable resources, but also they can improve quality of our built environments. As the economy booms, building owners, architects, engineers and contractors can use reusable materials to build sustainable cities and preserve the natural environment.
5 MATERIALS TO BUILD GREEN
From residential to light commercial uses, steel comes at the top for innovative and sustainable designs. In addition to being having high flexibility, strength and durability, there are several other qualities that make steel ideal for construction projects.
Throughout North America, steel ranks at the top with over 58 million tons recycled. It’s followed by paper, aluminum, glass and plastic. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel has the ability to be continuously reused without losing durability or strength. Using recycled steel saves 80% of CO2 emissions, and steel costs three to four times less to produce than aluminum.
Going back to nature, wood is one of the most basic and innovative building materials. Architects are beginning to understand the potential of using wood in designing skyscrapers. The CF Moller Scandinavian firm built a 34-story tower in Stockholm, which currently stands as the world’s tallest wooden skyscraper.
Building with wood is cheap, easy and sustainable. There are no waste products, and it binds CO2, which helps to reduce the over-production in many construction projects. Additionally, wood increases safety because 15% of its mass is water, which combats fires better than steel or concrete.
Almost every building uses concrete in some way. Concrete produces 7 to 10 percent of CO2 emissions, which isn’t helping the current state of air pollution. However, by mixing in recycled materials, builders can utilize a more sustainable type of concrete to help reduce the negative environmental impact of the valuable resource. By mixing in crushed glass, wood chips or slag, the percentage of CO2 emissions are greatly lowered.
Mushrooms / Mycelium
Most commonly known as mushroom roots, this healthy material has more recently been utilized by top companies as a naturally recycled material. Because of the lack of active consumer recycling, companies like Idea and Dell are utilizing the mushroom resource in packaging. If left out in the back yard, mycelium will easily degrade in less than a month.
Not only is it cheaper, but also mycelium is easy to produce in many different shapes. Once the organic resource is reshaped, it can be dehydrated to stop the natural growth. The variety of uses and eco-friendly nature of mycelium make it a perfect sustainable material to use in several construction roles.
Superior to the common chemical foam alternate, the paper base makes an ideal sustainable substitute in building insulation. Made with recycled newspapers and cardboard, this material is insect resistant. Like wood, it’s also safer. When natural materials like borax, boric acid and calcium carbonate are added, it becomes fire-retardant. Not only does it help to preserve the natural environment, but also paper-based insulation will fill every crack for a nearly draft-free space.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Whether you’re designing a new home or laying out blueprints to construct a fresh business, choosing better materials will promote longevity. Consumers should demand more developer use of sustainable materials, and builders should strive to produce the healthiest buildings possible. Enhance the durability of your building and show the kindness to the environment by utilizing nature’s best resources.