From 2010 to 2020, 7 million houses were built across the United States.
That figure only includes residential builds, too. As such, we can assume even more millions of commercial buildings and other structures appeared in the last 10 years.
And to build so many new homes, workspaces, shopping centers and more, construction companies need supplies. But there’s a problem — the world is creeping closer and closer to an environmental crisis. That’s why you want to make sure your projects are as lucrative as they are eco-friendly.
So, you want to make the switch to eco-friendly building materials. We’ve got you covered — these seven options will help you build with both structural and environmental integrity.
Bamboo makes the perfect alternative to wood. Its shoots can be refined to look like wooden planks. However, it’s part of the grass family, so it grows much faster than traditional hardwoods — some plants can grow a whopping three feet in a single day.
So, swap wood for bamboo in your building projects. It can be used to build walls, as well as hardwood-style floors that look just as clean and classic. You can also decorate your space with bamboo mats, furniture and screens — the possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to bamboo.
2. Recycled Steel
Don’t worry — recycled steel doesn’t lose any of its strength when used a second time. Instead, it gives you all the rigidity and support you need while pulling usable resources from landfills. Building a 2,000-square-foot home, for example, requires the same amount of steel you’d find in six junkyard cars.
Plus, recycling saves roughly 75 percent of the energy used to refine fresh steel. So, opt for recycled steel when framing out your new builds to save resources and money without compromising in safety or strength.
Perhaps you’re scratching your head — how can I use wool in an eco-friendly building project?
You probably have a wool sweater or pair of socks, so you know how effectively the material keeps you warm. You can do the same for your home, although not with a house-sized cardigan. Instead, you can fill your walls with wool insulation to keep it cozy in winter.
The best part is, sheep grow their fur back quickly. And farmers often shave them to help them stay cool in summertime, anyway. So, it’s an eco-friendly option for insulation on your construction project, whether it’s commercial or residential.
Interestingly enough, concrete is a recyclable material. So, you can feel good about using a fresh batch in your construction project. Or, you can opt for pre-cast concrete that’s even better for the environment.
To pre-cast concrete, manufacturers pour it over steel or rebar wires, then ship the hardened panels to construction sites. This quality is a boon to builders. No longer do you have to wait for the weather to cooperate — your concrete will arrive cured and hardened, and you can build with it right away.
On that note, pre-cast concrete has more uses than its site-poured counterpart. You can use it to build walls and free-standing buildings, too. And insulation concrete walls provide more warmth than abodes with wood framing, according to previous studies.
5. Metallic Oxide
To construct an eco-friendly building, you have to think about more than just the structure, walls and floors. The structure’s other features can contribute to — or take away from — its energy efficiency.
Windows are a prime example of this. A bad set of windows can let warm air out in the winter. And, in summer, unglazed windows can let the sun beat in, thus making your home or office hotter — and necessitating the use of more air-conditioning.
You can help your building regulate its temperature with so-called Low-E windows. The E stands for emissivity, meaning the windows can keep heat inside during winter and block it from entering in summer.
This feature will cut down on energy usage for as long as the building stands. Look into business window tinting cost to ensure it’s within the budget for your commercial build.
6. Cool Roofing
Similarly, the right roof can help maintain a building’s temperature, too.
Think about it: you wouldn’t wear a dark outfit on a hot day — you know that it would attract and soak up more heat to wear black in the blazing sun. Do the same for your eco-friendly business by installing cool roofing.
Cool roofing reflects sunlight, rather than soaking it up and heating the building. But technological advancements in the roofing realm mean that it doesn’t have to be a light color to keep cool. So, you can maintain the aesthetics of your building’s exterior with a dark-colored, heat-deflecting roof.
You can expect to pay a bit more for your cool roofing treatment, but it’s worth it if you want to make your building eco-friendly. You’ll use less resources over time, as you won’t have to crank the air-conditioning as high when it’s hot outside.
7. Plastic-Composite Lumber
It’s no secret that the United States — and the world at large — has a plastic problem. In 2017, 35.4 million tons of plastic were produced in the U.S. alone.
We can reuse some of that material in eco-friendly buildings from here on out. Plastic-composite lumber combines recycled wood with recycled plastic to create a building material that’s more durable and rigid than lumber. It’s also a less toxic option, as compared to many treated lumber products.
Composite lumber also wards off rot and mold more effectively than traditional wood planks. It’s a bit more pliable in the heat and stiff in the cold than all-plastic options. However, it is costlier than treated lumber, so check your budget before building with plastic-composite planks.
Go For Eco-Friendly Building Materials
These are only seven of the many eco-friendly building materials out there. Which ones will you try on your next project or in your home? Whatever you choose, you’ll be making a choice that’s better in the long run — and that will feel good as the structure’s builder or its buyer.
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