Although concrete is a core component in homes, public buildings, and bridges, it’s not the most sustainable building material out there.
Commercial concrete production releases tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year, contributing to environmental pollution and climate change. Fortunately, there are more sustainable construction materials that present a greener alternative to concrete in both residential and commercial projects.
1. Straw Bales
Straw bale building is a nod to the days when we built our homes from natural and locally-sourced materials. Instead of relying on technology and manufactured materials, we use what the earth provides. Straw bales are used to replace concrete, plaster, gypsum, and other building materials in walls. When sealed properly, they have a high insulating ability. As a renewable resource, straw is both sustainable and affordable.
The recent popularity of bamboo amenities such as furniture and utensils may make it seem trendy, but it has been used in construction for millennia. Its combination of light weight, tensile strength, and renewability make it an ideal replacement for expensive imported materials and an alternative to rebar and concrete construction, especially in areas with easy access to locally-sourced bamboo.
3. Recycled Plastic
Plastic is emerging as one of the more sustainable construction materials. Instead of sourcing, mining and milling new components, researchers are producing concrete made from ground-up trash and recycled plastics. This practice reduces greenhouse gas emissions and provides a positive new use for plastic waste that would otherwise be clogging landfills.