Eco-friendly Construction Materials
by Ankshul on October 29, 2021
The world is going through an intense climate crisis in present days. Many factors have added to this growing crisis that can be modified even now to reduce its effects and ultimately zero them down. The construction industry has played its part in this crisis, and must evolve into using environmental friendly resources and adopting eco-friendly practices. As the world is turning its attention to the climate crisis and its global impact, engineers and architects are developing sustainable and eco-friendly solutions for the construction industry. Global certifications like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design(LEED) and local certifications like Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment(GRIHA) are majorly sought-after because they design, construct, operate and maintain cost and resource efficient, high performing and safe structures. With the recent developments in design, technology, materials, practices, construction has never been so inclined towards sustainable creation of structures.
The housing construction industry has seen great improvements in choice of materials being used for construction. Eco-friendly house construction materials have either been discovered, developed or brought back into use that were in trend in earlier times. The building process that uses eco-friendly construction materials is known as Green Building. Green building involves sustainable use of natural and renewable resources throughout the building duration with energy efficient actions and designs. The choice of eco-friendly construction materials as per the geographical and cultural significance, plays a vital role, that must possess properties such as longevity, compatibility and superior performance.
9 Eco-friendly building materials that are revolutionizing the face of construction
Here are 9 present day materials that are majorly used in eco-friendly construction:
- Earthen Structures-These eco-friendly house construction materials are typically produced from soil components. These include materials such as adobe, cobs and rammed earth that are possibly the cleanest material available for construction in India and a much better replacement for traditional concrete masonry. These materials are typically made from clay, dirt, lime and gravel. Adobe bricks are unburnt bricks made from clay and straw that are dried in the sun. These bricks provide flexibility in design and noise resistance for houses. Rammed earth can be used for constructing both walls and floors that are quite durable. Both adobe bricks and rammed earth can be used for thermal insulation too. Cobs are used to build houses that have an organic-look. Cobs are a mix of subsoil, water, fibrous organic materials and lime.
- Straw Bale-These eco-friendly construction materials are used in walls and ceilings because of their excellent insulating properties. Straw bales that are usually burnt by farmers after harvesting crops can be used for eco-friendly construction, thereby reducing the excess carbon content being produced. Thus it is a renewable material that can be used and reproduced with minimal environmental impact. It also offers sound and fire resistance along with aesthetic provisions.
- Bamboo- Use of eco-friendly construction material such as bamboo can be of high significance because of its cultural, social, economic, strength and regenerative properties. It regenerates very quickly in 3-5 years as it is from the grass family and is abundant in India. It provides the strength of wood and better aesthetics. These eco-friendly construction materials can almost be used for all structural components of a house from floors to beams due to its durability. It is easy to assemble and work on because of being lightweight. Bamboos are considered as traditional materials but the fact is that its potential hasn't been tapped yet in the market.
- Eco-friendly wood-Wood has been used for a long time in construction but as an eco-friendly construction material engineered wood, reclaimed wood and certified wood are preferred for green building. Wood scraps and small trees are chosen to produce stronger frames than natural logs for engineered wood. It makes use of less wood compared to traditional wood. These woods can be treated by several methods to improve durability and longevity of the eco-friendly wood. Reclaimed wood is one of the best ways of saving trees and reducing lumbers in landfills. Reclaimed wood can be found in places like retired barns, salvage yards, shipping crates, pallets, home remodelling companies, etc. It is good for framing and flooring in houses. The only setback of using reclaimed wood is that it has to be treated and reinforced properly before use due to its susceptibility to degradation.
- Stone- Stone is one the most durable of all eco-friendly house construction materials used in eco-friendly construction. Its low maintenance cost and excellent green properties make it suitable for harsh conditions. Using stones for building doesn't produce toxins or harmful chemicals. Also, there is no need for finishing or painting of walls.
- Recycled and Natural materials-Many materials like plastic, vinyl, rubber, scrap steel, etc can be recycled and used as eco-friendly house construction materials, directly or by creating composites. They have better longevity and low maintenance costs. Using recycled materials in construction is also known as circular construction as it diverts waste from landfills to be reused as construction materials. Mycelium is a naturally occurring unicellular organism comprising the root structure of fungi and mushrooms, that are used to create lightweight and strong bricks. Mycelium can be moulded into any shape by combining it with pasteurized sawdust. The best property about mycelium is that it is organic and compostable. It is quite sturdy and can withstand extreme temperatures.
- Grasscrete, Ashcrete and Hempcrete- Grasscrete is a method of laying concrete with spaces left for grasses that reduces overall concrete usage and improves drainage and stormwater absorption. It also enhances the aesthetics of a structure. Hempcrete is concrete like material prepared from woody inner fibres of the hemp plant. Hempcrete concrete blocks are lightweight and sturdy as well as possess great insulating properties. These blocks also have good sound and fire resistance. The greatest benefit of using hempcrete is that it is CO2 negative, i.e., it absorbs more CO2 than it emits. Ashcrete is an environmentally friendly material that comprises 97% recycled materials and uses fly ash instead of traditional cement. Ashcrete is less porous, which makes it stronger than Portland cement concrete. These eco-friendly house construction materials can change the way of our lives.
- Structural Insulated Panels(SIPs)-These are factory made large panels that consist of foam insulation sandwiched in between two sheets of oriented strand cardboard(OSB). They are one of the most airtight and well insulated building components available in the market. As they are tightly sealed, they require less energy for heating and cooling, which makes them great eco-friendly house construction materials.
- Living Roofs-As the name suggests these can be defined as vegetated roofs consisting of a water-proofing membrane, soil as growing medium and vegetations overlying a traditional roof. Living roofs are quite durable and have a lifespan more than twice that of traditional roofs. In summer living roofs have proved to reduce cool air loss by 70%- 90%, greatly reducing energy consumption. They assist in improving the air quality of the house as well as the surroundings. They also have super noise insulation and increased rainwater retention potential.
Construction sites can easily be monitored in an efficient manner with the help of construction project management tools. Powerplay application is a full fledged advanced construction management that has broad functionalities regarding all steps concerning a construction process. It is quite user friendly and it has impressive UI features.