Sustainable Building: 4 Materials for Eco-friendly Remodeling

The popularity of eco-friendly living has grown tremendously in the last few years, and we have been seeing the results in how homes, apartments, and commercial buildings are now being constructed.  A wide range of home professionals are offering services that concentrate on sustainable design and construction and this type of architecture is being promoted by Leed Certifications, a program started by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council. The program promotes a rating system for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods.

Of course, most homes today are from a time before the creation of the Leed Certification program. And maybe you love the home you’re in. Or maybe it’s just not the right time for you to navigate the real estate market. That’s okay; we can work with what you have. If you want to convert your home to an eco-friendly environment, then here are four ways to do it.

1. Sustainable Materials

Deforestation, the over-harvesting of trees to meet the demand for wood, is one of the greatest issues facing builders and homeowners today. Trees are vital to the overall health of the planet, and specifically the air we breathe. But new developments in sustainable materials help combat that. Such products include:

  • Paper-Based Countertops. Made of tree pulp from forests that are strictly managed to be sustainable.
  • Bamboo Plywood. A sustainable material that grows quickly and develops in just four years. It is ideal for use in bathrooms because it withstands moisture.
  • Lumber From Sustainable Forests. Sustainable forests are managed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). They are an international group that establishes standards for the responsible maintenance of forests worldwide.
  • Wood From Sorghum Plants can be used to create a Kirei board that is made with a non-toxic adhesive.
  • Cork Flooring is made from one-third of the trunk of an oak tree. Since the tree remains intact, it will regenerate and grow the wood back. It is durable and softer than standard hardwood flooring and is very easy to install.
  • Bamboo Butcher Block is ideal for kitchens because it is formaldehyde-free so it is safe for foods.
  • Macrame thread. Macramé is the process of knotting, rather than weaving or knitting. Macrame has so many uses and is completely eco-friendly. It makes a beautiful decorative wall piece or can be fashioned for furniture.

2. Recyclable Items

We enclosed this Roscoe Village loft with reclaimed barn wood.

An essential element of green living is saving materials from being destroyed or sent to waste dumps. The construction industry taps into this by using products made of recycled materials. We can reuse anything from wood and plastic to truck tires. Now, you can have a homemade almost entirely of recycled materials.

  • Composite Decking. A combination of wood waste and recycled plastic. It is very strong and durable so it lasts for a long time. Moreover, it won’t warp, crack, splinter, or rot like wood.
  • Rubber Mulch is made of 100-percent recycled tires and can be used in just about any landscape. It serves as a reliable play surface, discourages the growth of weeds, and will not entice bugs. It is also a good surface that offers drainage for water and easy flow of air.
  • Recycled-Plastic Carpet is made of recycled plastic bottles that are converted into carpet yarn.
  • Recycled and Reclaimed Wood. The creative concept of reclaimed, repurposed wood has taken off in recent years.  Everyone seems to love these items. Try an extra-large, reclaimed wood-framed mirror to not only contribute to sustainability but increase the daylight in your home.  Protect your walls when hanging heavy mirrors with a rail hanging system.
  • Eco-Friendly Carpet Tiles are made of 80 percent recycled poly fiber, repels stains, and won’t trap dirt like traditional carpets do. So it is ideal to use in a household of people plagued by allergies or an office full of people coming and going.
  • Recycled Glass Countertops are an ideal substitute for petroleum-based resin countertops. Made of windshields, stemware, and beverage bottles, the materials are bound together with concrete and fly ash. These countertops are as strong as granite and are scratch and heat resistant as well as easy to maintain.

3. Synthetic Materials

This kitchen uses engineered quartz countertops

This kitchen uses engineered quartz countertops.

These materials are science fiction brought to life. Made by chemical synthesis to imitate a natural product, synthetic products prevent the need of using natural materials to manufacture items, which is truly what green is all about. So what options do you have when stepping into this Star Trek remodel?

  • Synthetic Grass. Appears plush and green like real grass, but is maintenance-free. So no need to mow or water it, thus conserving resources and saving you some time and energy.
  • Engineered Quartz. This is made from resin and ground quartz (the second-most abundant material in the earth’s crust), you can get the look of granite or marble, but with less environmental impact.

4. More Efficient Use of Nature

Of course, the ideal form of eco-friendly is a product or home that uses what nature provides. This can be warmth from the sun and shade from trees. Products that fall into this category include:

  • Patio Doors or Windows that include low-E tempered glass or window film that uses a special coating to take advantage of the energy from the sun for more efficient energy use in the home. This product reduces energy loss by about 50 percent.

The products mentioned here just scratch the surface of what is available in the market today. Have you used any of these? How did they change your project? What compels you to build green? We’d love to hear from you. And if you’re researching to start your own green building project, give us a call.

Article by Alex Dunbar from Shades Picture Hanging.

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