Getting rapidly structuring, in our world, the main source of environmental pollution and energy consumption is the built environment. To reduce this effect, we can produce more ecological buildings by making decisions proper with the principles of sustainability in architectural design. Although sustainable architecture principles cover every scales of the design process, the field where an architect can most intervene is the material scale. Thereby, we should design green structures by choosing eco friendly materials for buildings.
All very fine, but what are green building materials that we can use in our structures? Don’t worry, we’ve prepared a list of eco friendly green building materials for you.
Eco Friendly Materials for Buildings
# CLT – Cross Laminated Timber
Wood has always took a place among the most sustainable architecture materials throughout history. There are valid reasons for the ongoing use of wooden structure material for thousands of years. Some of these reasons are:
- Localness and accessibility of trees that raw material of timber
- Wood cleans the air by absorbing carbon in the atmosphere
- Simple workmanship and relatively low cost of material
- Being a natural material, it is less harmful to human health.
Incidentally, you can read our Wooden Structure article in order to get more information about the use of wood in architectural design.
Scientists have researched weaknesses of wood in the 21st century. They developed a new composite timber material as strong as reinforced concrete. This material, called Cross Laminated Timber, was basically created by gluing the wooden panels on top of each other with the help of glue and press machine. In order for CLT to be resistant to both tensile and pressure, its fibers are placed vertically each other. By this means, cross laminated timber material has been a good alternative building material to wood in the construction field.
Cob is an ecological building material comprised of natural sources such as straw, water and soil. The reason for using straw is that increasing the strength of soil by hold together it. The cob that we frequently come accross in the local architectural traditions has been one of the main materials of buildings for 10 thousands years.
Thanks to the components it consists, cob is a natural thermal insulation material. By this means, structures used the cobe material don’t need an addition insulation material. It decreases the costs of heating and cooling. Consequently, cob is a good example to energy efficient green materials for building design.
Since the cob works monolithically, it also functions as a carrier. Below, some other features that cobe material provide:
- Low carbon footprint
- Low cost because of the local findability of its components
- Being a healthy material
- High earthquake resistance for single storey structures
- Waterproofing and adaptation to climate conditions
- Sound impermeability thanks to its fibrous structure
- And lastly, enabling curvilinear walls in architectural design
Reaching quite tall heights in just 3-5 years, bamboo trees provide a %100 renewable building material. Very strong elongation of bamboo fibers in the long direction is what makes bamboo durable. It also has an excellent tensile strength.
Stone is a natural construction material providing us to design environmentally friendly buildings. Since old centuries, people had created spaces to inhabit inside of them by putting various stones and rocks on top of each other. Crafting these primitive spaces, which they created by imitating caves, they have built structures getting more and more beautiful looks.
However, stones are getting differ by their formation process and minerals they include. Some stones were chosen as the main component of buildings according to their rigidity and cellular structure. Some of others were used as sustainable facade materials.
Advantages of Stone Used in Buildings
Stone structures protect from the cold and provide a cool spatial atmosphere in summer. Stones do not emit any harmful chemical gases and are also highly resistant to fire. In order to use a type of stone in a building, additional materials are generally not needed. This reduces the environmental pollution that will occur due to physical or chemical mixture to zero. Natural stones are simple, useful and environmentally friendly, as they are often used directly as a building material, without touching its structure.
Hempcrete obtained from a mixture of sand, hemp and lime is an innovative material in construction area. It also provides thermal insulation. It can be used as a panel, yet it is mostly produced in blocks and used as the core component of walls. These extremely light and effective blocks are held together with mortar-like binding materials. Although not as durable as concrete, it’s among the sustainable eco friendly materials for buildings as it doesn’t shrink or crack when dry. Additionally, it has high fire resistance and soundproofing.
Mycelium is the plant-based fibrous part of the fungus that remains underground. It can be dried and used as a natural material for buildings. These biodegradable mushroom roots are mostly used for insulation and floor covering. It is among the most sustainable building materials that are candidates to replace plastic in the future. The most important characteristics of mycelium are fire resistance, heat insulation and water impermeability. Moreover, due to its lightweight, its portability is much easier and cheaper.
# Clay Brick
Clay, obtained from stones formed as a result of volcanic eruptions, is a green, renewable, eco-friendly and sustainable construction material. Containing minerals such as limestone, iron oxide and silica, clay is a humid material due to its hydrophilic character. When water adding to the clay, it gains a structure that can be easily shaped. This water evaporates quickly due to the flammable compounds it contains. Then, the clay material retains its shape by gaining hardness.
People have been producing bricks with these kinds of contentful stones and soils since antique ages. Clay-based brick, otherwise, is an unique green architecture material by keeping the interior warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
# Recyclable Rubber
Rubber is produced in two types. The first type is synthetic rubber, which is produced with petroleum-derived raw materials and is quite harmful to nature. The natural rubber, on the other hand, is obtained from rubber tree and recyclable.
Rubber, which is very resistant to tearing and pulling, has a high elasticity. It’s mostly used in floor coverings in building design and also preferred on the floors of gyms and walking trails. Rubber is used in playgrounds to prevent injuries from falling, too. The rubber coating, which gives a very soft feeling when you walk on it, is the right choice to meet the soft floor needs of outdoor spaces. However, you should prefer recyclable rubber.
# Newspaper Wood
Newspaper Wood is a Dutch company that founded in 2003. Instead of producing newsprint from wood in traditional ways, this enterprise reverses the process by converting newsprints into wood. Since it uses paper as a raw material, it has a low strength. Therefore, it is not yet suitable for use in terms of structure. It is possible to create wooden-looking furniture instead. Nevertheless, the use of newspapers, which are read once and thrown aside, in the field of decoration is an extremely environmentally friendly idea.
Finally, the last of eco friendly materials for buildings is timbercrete. It is mix of waste sawdust and concrete. As its very name signifies, timbercrete means timber + concrete. It is lighter and has lower carbon emissions than concrete. It can be in different sizes and shapes such as bricks, panels and blocks.
As a result, in this article we’ve prepared a list containing examples of sustainable materials for architecture. These green building materials used in construction field are:
- Cross Laminated Timber – CLT
- Clay Brick
- Recyclable Rubber
- Newspaper Wood