Green Construction or Green Architecture refers to creating architecture that is ecologically responsible with optimum use of resources. It means to use every possible method to minimize the environmental footprint of the structure. The goal is to make a building efficient throughout its life cycle. From the preparation of materials to transportation, construction, operation, maintenance, and in the end, demolition.
One such way for the adaptation of green construction is using alternative building materials. They are profitable both ecologically and economically. Alternative materials are local, renewable, and have a low impact on the environment. The energy used in the preparation of such materials is significantly less. Using locally available materials can lower transportation costs and carbon emissions. The alternative materials can be easily recycled and reused in different ways, and at the end of their life-cycle, they easily accommodate themselves back in nature.
Here are 8 alternative building materials that can be used for green construction and create an environmentally responsible structure:
The use of straw bale can be traced back to the primitive era when elaborate building materials were not invented. Straw bale in recent times is used inside the framing of the wall as an alternative to concrete, wood, gypsum, plaster, or fiber-glass. When properly sealed, the materials provide excellent insulation against temperature.
Straw bale is usable in its raw state-requiring no further processing. It is also among the most affordable materials. However, while constructing in areas with high humidity and rainfall, straw bale might not be appropriate for use.
Ferrock is a newly invented material that is under research. It is made of recycled materials like steel dust for creating a building material similar to concrete but even stronger than that. The most significant benefit of ferrock is that it absorbs and traps carbon dioxide in the process of drying and hardening, which makes it nearly carbon neutral.
Ferrock is perhaps a greener alternative to standard cement. Using it can reduce a large amount of carbon emission. Any structure made with ferrock will last longer and does not need repairs and replacement.
Mycelium is another innovative material that is entirely natural. It is made of the root structure of fungi and mushrooms. Mycelium can be grown around other organic materials in standard molds. Later it is air-dried to create lightweight and strong bricks or other different shapes to use in construction.
Mycelium thus is a fibrous network that is capable of self-healing and reduces the need for high-priced repairs and maintenance. It’s an Eco-friendly insulation material that outperforms traditional fiber-glass. Mycelium will be a breakthrough in the field of biomass green building material.
Grasscrete is an alternative method of laying concrete to create permeable surfaces for flooring, walkways, sidewalks, and driveways. Due to which the negative spaces allow grass or other native flora to grow. It is beneficial for reducing concrete usage as well as improving storm-water absorption and drainage.
Grasscrete is extremely useful economically as the rate of drainage is almost the same as that of lawn for an equal amount of surface area. With 47% concrete and 53% holes filled with grass, it can generate a natural bio-filter to remove pollutants while percolating.
Hempcrete is a material created out of woody balsa-like inner fibers of the hemp plant. The fibers are bound with lime and water to create blocks like concrete. The hempcrete being very lightweight, the cost and energy for transportation decrease significantly.
Hempcrete material provides a natural airtight yet breathable and flexible insulation. It is also mold-free and pest resistant as well as nearly fireproof. As a sustainable building material, hemp can be grown and replenished relatively quickly.
Rammed Earth is a technology used by humans for many years. Walls similar to the concrete are made out of earth tamped and pressed in wooden forms. Modern rammed earth constructions are reinforced with rebar or bamboo to increase safety. For the low manufacturing impact and negligible carbon footprint throughout the life-cycle, rammed earth has gained popularity as a sustainable material.
Rammed Earth comes with several advantages such as superior thermal mass, temperature, and noise control, strength, and durability, low maintenance, fireproofing load-bearing, and pest deterrence. In terms of aesthetics, rammed earth offers a natural and Eco-friendly environmental ambiance.
Timbercrete is made out of sawdust and concrete. The final product is lighter than concrete which reduces transportation emissions. The sawdust used in making timbercrete reuses waste wood products and also replaces components of traditional concrete.
Timbercrete is a green material that has greater strength and insulating capabilities than solid concrete. Timbercrete is also bush-fire proof, which allows minimal heat transfer and radiation. The other benefit is that the material is user-friendly and can be easily nailed, screwed, or sawn by anyone.
Bamboo as a material is being used in some parts of the world for many years. Bamboo has many qualities: the combination of tensile strength, lightweight, and fast-growing renewable nature, which makes it one of the most widely used natural materials. Bamboos are used for framing and alternative reinforcement for concrete. It is very useful especially in remote areas, temporary shelters, and areas where bamboo is locally available.
Bamboo is recently gaining more spotlight due to its potential for Eco-friendly purposes in green construction. It absorbs carbon dioxide and produces oxygen which is an ideal condition. It can be easily grown and harvested, making it one of the most cost-effective construction materials to date.