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7 Eco-friendly Building Materials for Sustainable Homes

7 Eco-friendly Building Materials for Sustainable Homes
21st February 2024

With global climate change showing no signs of slowing down, reducing energy consumption by choosing eco-friendly building materials has become more important than ever before.

The construction and use of residential and commercial buildings account for 39% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Using eco-friendly building materials during construction can reduce carbon emissions, save energy, and contribute to passive home design and cost savings.

In this list, we’ll unveil our picks for the seven leading environmentally friendly building materials you should consider as you plan your new home.  

7 Eco-Friendly Building Materials for Your Home

Sustainable, eco-friendly, or green building materials are produced, placed, and maintained with low environmental impact. They are typically either durable, reusable, recyclable, or contain recyclable materials. Eco-friendly building materials are also natural and locally sourced, as transportation and shipping can make them lose their eco credentials.

1. Engineered Wood

Though engineered wood sounds unnatural, it is made of natural wood types that are bound together. Reclaimed or recycled wood is more sustainable than harvesting new timber as reclaiming wood instead of acquiring fresh timber reduces the amount of energy used to source and shape it. If more buildings were constructed with engineered wood, global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 31%.

Engineered wood is a great choice of sustainable building material — it’s easy to install and makes for durable flooring. And because it is made with a diverse set of wood types, it utilises much less natural material than solid wood.

2. Bamboo

Bamboo has more compressive strength than concrete, allowing it to bear heavy loads. While it’s rarely used for entire residential homes, it’s an excellent eco-friendly building material for flooring, scaffolding, structures, and furniture like cabinets.

The highlight of having bamboo as a building material is how durable it is despite being so lightweight. Not only that, but its unique texture makes for a prominent aesthetic within the home.

3. Concrete

While concrete is a man-made material and one you may not expect to see on this list, it is at its best when used in conjunction with other eco-friendly building materials. Concrete is derived from rock and raw materials, providing long-term results when applied correctly. Some builders also work with lightweight concrete slabs made of recycled plastic waste, resulting in less landfill, lower carbon emissions, and water savings.

There’s a reason why so many homes in Australia feature concrete in at least one part of the house, from driveways to staircases — it’s strong yet low maintenance, resistant to fire, and has an incredibly long lifespan.

4. Green Thermal Insulation

As loose-fill insulation materials, green thermal insulation components are produced using recycled waste from cellulose, fibreglass, polyester, and wool. These materials will protect the inside of your home from the Queensland sun, keeping electricity bills down while using less energy than other non-sustainable insulation materials.

Green thermal insulation can boost your home’s energy rating, helping it keep heat better during colder weather and stay cool under the heat. Depending on the material components used, it can also be fire-resistant or treated with fire retardants to provide an addition layer of safety.

5. Natural Stone 

Natural stone is a broad category of building material, but we recommend stones such as limestone for their fire-resistance, sound-absorption, and structural strength. Though stone is not a renewable resource, it is one of the world’s first natural green building materials — it doesn’t require any other materials or resources to produce.

In addition to the benefits above, homes that feature natural stone also have a rustic appeal to them that contributes to creating an organic living environment. With an extremely long lifespan, natural stone works well as key features such as mantles or countertops. 

6. Glazing

Despite being a man-made material, glass is a very recyclable material that can be used in place of solid walls to provide your home’s space with lots of natural lighting while keeping it cool and cozy. Glazing, or window panelling not only a great way to create the illusion of a more spacious area by opening sightlines to the outdoors, can also act as effective insulation that reduces the need for powered heating or air conditioning. Glass is also 100% recyclable, meaning that none of it will go to waste when you need to repair or replace it.

7. Recycled Steel

Steel is the most recycled material in the world, and it doesn’t lose its properties in the process. When steel is recycled, 75% less energy is used every time it is repurposed. Aluminium is another lightweight, versatile option for home building.

The process of recycling metals like steel has come a long way — recycled steel is just as strong and durable as new steel, not to mention possibly being more refined due to the separation of carbon and other impurities during the process.  

Build Sustainably with Maidment Group

Choosing eco-friendly building materials for your new home takes careful research, inquiry, and planning. Before construction commences, inquire with your builder about the materials, their source, and options for acquiring and using sustainable components.

Looking to build your next home with some sustainable building materials? Maidment Group has been building from innovative and forward-thinking home designs for over 20 years. Incorporating eco-friendly building materials such as natural stone and engineered wood, our designs are your path to reducing carbon emissions and obtaining a new, sustainable home.