Gray and durable concrete has been a literal building block in our homes, bridges, sidewalks and apartments for several years. Unfortunately, the process of creating this critical building element contributes to our environmental crisis by releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. Climate change and our heightened sense of doing what is right for the environment have led us to find alternative materials to reduce our dependence on concrete. The one you choose depends on your building needs and goals to become green.
The straw in these bales is made of stems of different grains that are cut and baled after the grain is harvested. Farmers can make money from what would otherwise be a waste product. Straw bales have insulation values as high as R-30 and can be even higher the thicker bales. Although straw bales construction is not difficult, it is best to consult someone who has experience with this design style since these are techniques not used in conventional building.
It may seem too good to be true to find a material that is good for the environment, fairly easy to construct and energy efficient. As expected, it has its drawbacks. First and foremost is that not all places allow buildings of this type, so be sure to contact your local authorities before making this choice. Straw bales do not like moisture, so building with this material is limited to areas that do not experience much moisture or wet weather. And if you do not live near the source, shipping costs and pollution involved in shipping these materials to your location should be part of your decision.
Grasscrete is a building alternative that can be used in very busy places such as sidewalks and driveways where robust support is a requirement. The product is permeable, and even though it is made with concrete, the molds have open holes where grass or other plants can grow. These open spaces improve drainage of water that would otherwise drain into storm drains and give you less concrete to add to your landscape.
Wood and bamboo
Like hemp, bamboo is a fast-growing resource. Among its many benefits, it is relatively inexpensive, strong and durable if harvested correctly. It is also a wonderful building material with the potential to create lyrical, harmonic structures. A valuable feature of bamboo is its tensile strength, which refers to the maximum stress it can withstand before breaking. This makes it an earthquake-friendly building material. Processing bamboo for construction requires much less energy than steel, which makes it possible to be up to 20 percent cheaper than a traditional home. Unfortunately, it's not good. Formaldehyde, a carcinogen that can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, is often used on bamboo floors, and the harvest has led to deforestation.
Unlike hemp and bamboo, trees do not grow quickly, but there are still advantages over concrete. During its long growth process, trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen to improve the air. Proper forest management is crucial to ensuring access to this valuable renewable resource.
A building of this type is often seen in earthenware construction where soil is packed into decks that form the walls of the structure. Modern buildings with frame earth often use wooden forms that create elegant buildings with enough thermal mass to absorb heat. Specialized machines pack the soil into the molds, saving you from straining your back, while reinforcing iron or bamboo provides reinforcement of the walls.
Expenditure can be a disadvantage for a building of this type. Due to specialized machines and extra labor, a house with a ground frame can be up to 15 percent higher than a traditional home. The insulation is poor in these buildings, which makes it an extra expense if you live in an area with extreme heat or cold. And even if you think it would simply be about digging up soil in your area near the site of the affected soil, the soil type may need to be adjusted if it does not consist of a suitable compound mixture – which can be good if you Not interested in digging big holes in your property. Finally, the used forms are difficult to fill and pack, which means that curves cannot be accommodated, giving these buildings a boxy look to them.
Hemp is a fast-growing, pest-resistant resource, robust, yet lightweight. Because it is lightweight, it does not require as much energy to transport. Unfortunately, it is not widely used because not many builders are familiar with it, nor are its advantages in construction. Although hemp's many uses, it is also a heavy feeder and regularly needs large quantities of fertilizers for good growth. Not a good alternative for someone trying to reduce their negative impact on the environment. And it's not cheap, so consider an additional eight to twelve percent in cost when considering this material.
Recycled plastic  These have come in many common building materials such as roof tiles, indoor insulation, structural forests, floorboards, attic floors, floor tiles, a few. Researchers are making progress in making concrete-based building materials that contain recycled plastic, keeping them away from landfills and reducing greenhouse emissions.
It sounds like a futuristic space term, but if you remember high school biology (we know some of you are out), you might have heard it before. It refers to the network of fine white filamentous root structures of fungi. These filaments grow around materials like ground straw placed in shapes and create a light brick or other shape when air-dried. They can also be grown in more detailed forms, creating wonderful, organic structures of all sizes.
Another product that uses waste material, ferrock gives new life to steel dust produced during the steelmaking process. The resulting material is even stronger than concrete and even more incredible – it absorbs carbon dioxide during the drying process
It is ash concrete and timber concrete. Made from – you guessed it – ash (for ash concrete) and the corresponding wood. The ash and timber are waste products that would otherwise go unused, but have been formulated into building materials that are lighter than traditional concrete and which are less harmful to the environment.
There are many alternatives to building your green dream home. Continued research will surely provide more choices for the skilled eco warrior.