It becomes more evident with each passing day that we need to do better taking care of our planet. As far as the construction industry is concerned, we must focus on more sustainable building practices and completing projects that allow people to live in ways that are less damaging to the environment.
In earlier days of green construction, these types of materials were often prohibitively expensive, and often lacked the same dependability and durability of traditional materials. But we’ve seen countless innovations in recent years that have brought down prices and greatly improved the quality of eco-friendly building materials. And more innovations are being made right now.
Today, environmentally friendly building materials often cost the same as—or even less than—their traditional counterparts. Many of them are even stronger, lighter weight, more durable, and longer lasting than older materials, too.
And offering green construction practices and finished products can give you huge competitive advantages.
It will help you attract young, tech-savvy, environmentally conscious employees. Plus, clients are increasingly looking for green projects that give their companies a competitive advantage too, and that offer lower operational costs, an appealing organizational culture, environmental responsibility, a reduced carbon footprint, and maybe even tax incentives.
Here’s a quick look at some of the most exciting eco-friendly building materials you should be getting acquainted with today:
Environmentally Friendly Building Materials
- Transparent solar cells – These panels provide renewable solar energy, and because they resemble glass, they can be used as windows.
- Laminated timber – It’s more water-resistant and stronger than regular wood, and it eliminates 150 tons of carbon per story.
- Translucent wood – Color-stripped lumber that’s 90 percent transparent to let in plenty of natural light, offering superior insulation, serious strength, and high biodegradability.
- Self-healing concrete – This amazing concrete reduces greenhouse gases and maintenance, lasting 200 years thanks to water-activated bacteria that repairs cracks by producing calcite.
- Light-generating concrete – Another incredible new concrete product that has tiny glass balls embedded within to reflect light and reduce the need for artificial lighting.
- Transparent aluminum – It’s a ceramic alloy that’s 85 percent harder than sapphire and resistant to corrosion, oxidation, and radiation.
- Aluminum foam – Fully recyclable, this foam is created by injecting molten metal into air, and it’s great for cladding.
- Bioreactors – These building panels contain algae that undergo synthesis to generate energy and provide thermal regulation.
- Hydroceramics – An advanced membrane absorbs up to 400 times its weight in water to create self-cooling walls that reduce air conditioning energy use by nearly 30 percent.
- 3D graphene – This 3D printed carbon is 200 times stronger than steel, and yet only 5 percent of its density.
- Nano-crystal smart windows – Windows that let in natural light and block heat to reduce energy consumption and costs for lighting and cooling.
- Pollution-absorbing brick – Filters 100 percent of coarse pollutants and 30 percent of fine pollutants for cleaner air and sustainable ventilation.
- Wool brick – It’s fused with wool and seaweed polymer, 37 percent stronger than earth brick, and it significantly reduces greenhouse gases associated with earth brick production.
- Biochar – This byproduct of burned tree debris provides superior insulation for greener, more cost-effective buildings.
- Modular bamboo – Useful for reinforcing steel bars and in earthquake-resistant structures, it’s fast-growing and highly renewable, biodegradable, very affordable, and quite sturdy.