Part of the whole green building concept, Eco-friendly building materials are a key component of any Earth-friendly construction project. Starting with site selection and building design, each facet of these Eco-friendly projects is created emphasizing minimal impacts to the environment as well as human health through conservation of resources like energy and water;
Many of these green or natural projects fulfill these goals by using materials sourced locally from vendors who operate sustainable facilities whenever possible.
Eco-friendly building materials include all materials used during the actual construction phase of your green building project. Included are all lumber, stone and brick materials used exterior and interior walls and support systems; flooring, decking, roofing, siding, insulation and windows; along with the paneling, finishing and other physical systems used to complete the building.
Bearing in mind that using recycled materials wherever appropriate is usually an excellent option to help protect both the environment while creating a safe and healthy living space, here are other ideas to consider:
Earth-friendly Materials for the Building Exterior
Foundation materials such as stone or concrete sourced from local suppliers when possible;
Green-certified framing materials or use reclaimed wood (locally sourced where available);
Siding material that is derived from sustainable sources and enhances the energy efficiency of the structure;
Roofing systems using either metal, sustainable wood, recycled rubber tiles or use a “green roof” where feasible;
Decking using composite or recycled plastic boards; reclaimed wood or new wood from sustainable vendors.
Eco-Friendly Building Materials for Interior Construction
Interior wall materials such as green gypsum board, green plywood, clay/lime plaster, bamboo, cork, palmwood, etc.;
Flooring materials including green linoleum, stone tile, bamboo, cork, recycled carpet, reclaimed wood to name a few;
Eco-friendly insulation options include panels made from sustainable and non-toxic sources, loose fillings from newspaper and fibers treated with fire retardant, batted cavity insulation of treated fibers (replacing fiberglass);
Windows providing high energy efficiency ratings fitting the decor of the building with placement through out the structure to enhance natural lighting and heating/cooling functions; and
Wall coverings such as made using natural or recycled fiber paper for backing and non-toxic inks/dyes for print patterns or paints/finishes not using toxic VOCs or other materials such as pigments as coloring agents.
Other Green Options for Your New Building
Beyond using Eco-friendly building materials in the actual construction of the structure, the numerous items needing to be added to the basic building should also be Eco-friendly products. When you stop and consider the impact the decisions you make regarding the types of energy efficient appliances, heating system function and design, water-use efficiency of kitchen and bathroom components, types of Eco-lighting fixtures, etc., the potential to minimize your environmental footprint is enormous.
Also factoring in the pre-construction design steps taken to optimize energy efficiency and minimize environmental impact through site selection and overall building designs, you can not only build your dream home but it can be a green dream too!