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What Is The Most Environmentally Friendly Form Of A Building?

5 of the world's most eco-friendly building materials


A variety of hidden factors contribute to the eco-friendliness of the goods, including the transportation involved and how they hold up in some climates.


Environmental effect is a broad issue to which more people and sectors of the economy pay attention when making decisions about daily life and industry. Especially in the construction industry, which is historically known for its harsh impacts on natural resources and the environment, information on the issue is coming to light.


To reduce the environmental effects of building construction and operations, various eco-friendly building materials have appeared on the market. But it can be a little difficult to classify the most eco-friendly construction materials in the world because different people have distinct sustainability concepts.


Sustainable building often takes account of the appropriateness of the material for the environment in which it is used. In arid, cold conditions, some materials hold up well but degrade in warm, hot areas. The frequency of deterioration and replacement must factor into the overall eco-friendliness of an object.


A list of five materials that often make expert lists of eco-friendly construction components was compiled by Smart Cities Dive.



Sustainability experts almost unanimously agree that bamboo is one of the world's finest eco-friendly construction materials. With some species growing up to three feet in 24 hours, their rate of self-generation is exceptionally high. Technically, bamboo is a perennial grass, not a tree, and without having to be replanted after harvest, it continues to spread and grow. It is widespread throughout the world and, except for Europe and Antarctica, can be found on every continent.


Bamboo has a high strength-to-weight ratio and excellent toughness, much greater compressive strength than brick or concrete, so it can withstand a beating without too often being replaced, which is not always the case for other fast-growing, renewable materials such as hemp. For flooring and cabinetry, that makes bamboo a viable option.


Since it is lightweight, transporting bamboo is less energy-consuming than many other materials with equal toughness. A downside is that resisting insects and rot needs treatment; untreated bamboo has starch that insects like, and as it absorbs water, it can swell and crack.



Like bamboo, cork is a resource that is fast-growing. It receives bonus points for its ability to extract the cork, which is a tree bark, from a living tree which will continue to grow and reproduce.


Cork is versatile and durable, reverting after enduring pressure to its original form. It is a common feature in floor tiles due to its strength and resistance to wear. It is also suitable for insulation sheets because of its noise absorption capacity, and its shock absorption characteristics make it well-suited for sub-flooring. Cork is naturally fire-resistant if left uncoated, and when it burns, it doesn't release poisonous gases. This makes cork a strong thermal insulator as well.


Cork is almost waterproof, but it does not absorb water or rot. Cork, however, becomes more porous over time. Since it is mostly found in the Mediterranean, Cork loses a few sustainability points and shipping costs end up being a considerable factor. Cork is also extremely light, however, so it takes less energy to transport, thus salvaging its embodied energy score.


Reclaimed or recycled wood and metal

Because of the energy needed to manufacture them, aluminum and steel are highly embodied energy materials, such as extracting ore, heating and forming goods, and transporting relatively heavy materials.


A long-lasting commodity that does not require regular replacement is recycled metal. It tends not to burn or warp, making it a viable roofing, structural support, and façade construction alternative. It's flood and insect-resistant as well.


Instead of needing to be recycled and produced into a new product, reused metals, such as plumbing parts, may sometimes be used in their original form.


Like recycled metal, the embodied energy, which is already reduced because of its lightweight, is reduced by reclaiming and reusing wood. Wood does, however, have less power, so the dignity of each piece should be measured and chosen for an effective project.


For a plethora of building uses, including structural framing, flooring, siding, and cabinetry, recycled wood may be used. Density varies according to the wood type and over time, some stand up better. Most wood, however, is prone to insects and decay, reinforcing the need to inspect each reclaimed piece thoroughly.


Precast concrete slabs

At a manufacturer's factory, this concrete slab is shaped and transported to construction sites in whole pieces. Sometimes, like foam insulation, the outer layers surround a lightweight filler. Other models are made entirely of concrete but, like concrete blocks, have wide, hollow air spaces. For walls and building façades, precast concrete slabs are widely used because they hold well for all types of weather, but some types, particularly roof decks, can be used for floors and flat roofs.


The sustainability value of precast concrete slabs is much higher than many conventional poured concrete alternatives because the slabs also require far less energy to manufacture and install. In addition, precasting concrete offers the ability to cure the material correctly in a regulated setting, instead of potentially exposing it to a range of undesirable conditions when curing it at a construction site. Improper curing will lead to cracks and structural defects within the concrete and the need to demolish the new concrete and start over in the worst cases.


Concrete acts as a great way for a building to control heat, plus it is a highly inexpensive building material.


Sheep’s wool insulation

The stuff, like straw, doesn't degrade just as easily as other natural insulation materials. And sheep's wool is more prevalent, regenerates faster, and can be processed more easily compared to other insulators such as cotton.


A significant point to remember when looking for eco-friendly building materials is posed by sustainability experts: incorporating only one material in a limited way would not make an entire building project eco-friendly or sustainable.

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