The first step towards building sustainably is making use of green materials in construction.
At the heart of building sustainable structures is making use of sustainable materials in their construction. In their most basic sense, green materials include materials that are renewable and cause no harmful effects to the environment in their wake.
While green buildings are deemed to be those that are energy and water efficient, sustainable building practices also relies heavily on the sort of materials and products that go into their construction.
More often than not, eco-friendly materials are much pricier than the traditional ones generally used. But the payback of using green materials cost-wise, although coming in later, exceeds the expense spent investing in them.
Here we look at some of the popular and most energy-efficient materials used in construction:
Recycled wood is reclaimed from demolished buildings, old logs, homes, etc. Using this sort of wood not only limits deforestation, but it also has a myriad of benefits. Recycled wood is durable as it comes from old growth trees and is harder and denser than new wood. It also carries with it a distinctive appearance, being weathered and hard worn as it is. This wood is additionally cheaper.
There’s another kind of recycled wood that is green to use too. A half and half combination of wood fibres and waste plastics has been found to be more durable and less harmful than conventionally treated wood.
Products extracted from plants such as cotton and hemp can be used for insulation. Recycled cotton materials such as denim can be used as insulation as it lacks formaldehyde, and hemp fibres are naturally resistant to infestation, thus making both materials suitable for insulation.
This material is one of the most innovative and is a carbon negative cement alternative. Little known is the fact that cement, one of the most widely used materials in the world, is responsible for about nine per cent of global carbon emissions. Ferrock has emerged as a perfect alternative to cement. The material is impressively strong. But it does not stop there: Ferrock acts almost like a sponge and absorbs and binds atmospheric carbon. What could be a better alternative to cement than a material that has the hardness of cement without its toxic qualities?
There are large amounts of scrap steel produced each year. If this steel is recycled, the energy produced in making steel can be reduced by 75%. Moreover, it is touted that a house that would require 40 to 50 trees for its frame will only need recycled steel obtained from six scrapped cars. Moreover, steel does not undergo any sort of product degradation in the process of recycling. And since it can go through the process of recycling infinitely, its life cycles can be said to be perennial.
Text by Tasneem S. Pocketwala