How To Get Started With Sustainable Building Materials

When constructing a new eco home, build with sustainable building materials from the foundation up.

From green design to natural mattresses, there are so many steps to building an eco-home, says Brian Harper from environmentally friendly, green technology company With diligence and consciousness, the end result is an energy efficient home with a healthy indoor environment, that has a minimal impact on the earth. By using green construction materials for the foundation and framework, such as eco-friendly cement, and sustainable wood, a new project is off to an environmentally-friendly start.

Eco-Friendly Cement For A Green Foundation

With a new green home, start the foundation with eco-friendly cement. Substituting with this sustainable product is easy and cost-effective. As is often the case with green construction materials, it is also much more practical, being of a higher quality than regular cement.

Eco-friendly cement is made from a blend of regular cement and fly ash. Fly ash is the residue of coal-fired electrical plants. By making practical use of this industrial by product, waste is used to enhance a material, rather than being added to the waste stream. Approximately one-third of all fly ash produced in the United States is made into recycled concrete.

How does this eco-friendly material perform? Fly ash concrete is stronger than regular concrete. It is easy to work with, requires less water, and is less permeable, because of the way the fly ash reacts with the plastic properties of the concrete. With no health risks, according to the EPA, improved quality and durability, and comparable installation and cost, using fly ash concrete is beneficial for the environment, and for the home owner.

Innovative Sustainable Building Materials — Faswall Blocks

Faswall blocks are another efficient, eco-friendly product. They are created from eighty-five percent sawdust, and fifteen percent cement. Wood waste is recycled into a sustainable building material. The wood is ground, mineralized, and then bound with concrete. The result is an extremely durable building block, which acts as a natural source of insulation. It is soundproof, resistant to pests, fire, and mould. As Faswall absorbs and releases water vapor, thereby preventing moisture build-up, it is great for humid environments.

Green Construction With Rastra

Rastra is a recently developed green construction material. First manufactured in Austria in 1972, it is known as the original Composite Insulating Concrete Foam. Rastra is made from eighty-five percent polystyrene plastic and fifteen percent cement.

This material is like Faswall in that it is soundproof, and resistant to water damage, fire, wind, and pests. It improves the energy efficiency of a home by providing insulation, and by outlasting conventional materials. Rastra is structurally reinforced with steel and concrete. Because of its high degree of practicality, it is becoming increasingly popular in both residential and commercial building.

Building With Sustainable Wood

Wood is still a very popular material for framework. Ninety percent of new homes in the United States are built with wood framing. Although not as eco-friendly as recycled building materials, using wood from sustainable forests is a great way to make a new home as green as possible.

To buy sustainable wood, look for certification from a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accredited organization, such as the SmartWood Program, or the Rainforest Alliance. The FSC considers wood to be sustainable if the forest environment itself is protected, including the soil and the wildlife, if the use of chemicals and the practice of genetic engineering is limited, and if fair-labour practices are followed.

A New Eco Home

Using sustainable building materials is just the beginning of creating a new eco home. Energy-efficiency, indoor air quality, and eco-friendly products and appliances are all part of the equation. While commitment, flexibility, and creativity are needed for green construction, the positive results will be felt for decades.