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Eco Friendly Building Materials

Updated on February 27, 2015
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Eco Friendly Building Materials: Green Building Materials

Fairly new to home ownership ourselves, my husband and I have really begun to look into and research the many green building materials currently out on the market. While we have yet to begin chipping away at the long list of renovation and construction projects we have in mind for our home, hours of research has really shown the viability and cost effectiveness of using eco friendly building materials, such as bamboo flooring, recycled blue jean insulation, engineered wood products, and energy efficient windows. This list of building materials are those that I have become familiar with through research, however, these are, by no means, the only ones available to a zealous home owner or contractor.

If you're starting a renovation or construction project, it's important to consider the amounts of waste and pollution that these undertakings can create in both the long term and short term. Construction accounts for a vast amount of waste and garbage, and the materials used in conventional projects can be very harmful to the environment. Choosing eco friendly building materials is one way to reduce the impact of these projects, and there are many benefits to choosing them. Eco friendly building materials can save you money, energy and help ensure a greener future for everyone.

This article will talk about eco friendly building materials and processes, and hopefully you can incorporate these items into your undertakings. Environmentally friendly building materials are getting easier and easier to come by, and we'll talk about a few popular options and alternatives for the environmentally conscious renovator.

Let's get going and learn about some eco friendly building materials and products.

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Eco Friendly Building Materials: Bamboo

You've probably heard of bamboo before, and you likely associate it with East Asian food and panda bears. It also happens to be a fantastic eco friendly building material. In recent years, it has been discovered that bamboo can be cut, treated and pressed into almost any shape necessary, basically used in the same function as wood. Bamboo plank flooring is getting more popular, as is pressed bamboo lumber. It can be heat-treated to resemble almost any type of wood out there, and it is resistent to pests and rot.

Bamboo is one of the most eco friendly building materials because it's so renewable. Unlike lumber, when you cut bamboo there is no reason to replant, since it grows back from the shoots already there. Furthermore, bamboo grows to maturity in three to five years, unlike the 80 odd years required for a tree to grow to maturity.

The only thing hindering bamboo products as eco friendly building materials is the clearcutting of forests to grow the stuff. Since it is growing in popularity and the cost is low, there is some concern that this will happen. Be sure to find out where it comes from.

You can find eco friendly building materials made from bamboo at most building supply stores. Check out the bamboo alternative to laminate flooring, it's great.

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Eco Friendly Building Materials: Recycled Blue Jean Insulation

Where do blue jeans go when they die? Well, one option is they can be resurrected and become eco friendly building materials! Blue jean insulation is a newer phenomenon, and it's a great alternative for anyone looking to re-insulate their home. Rather than go the traditional fiberglass insulation route, you can get batts of insulation created by shredding and re-purposing old recycled pairs of blue jeans.

The result? Blue jean insulation isn't super expensive, and it's a very good material, more efficient at insulation than fiberglass alternatives. No nasty spray foam is involved here either, so it's one of the most eco friendly building materials available on the market. What's more, it's a breeze to install, no gloves required. Blue jean insulation can be cut and handled with bare hands, making the process easier.

It is slightly more time consuming and expensive, but blue jean insulation is one of the most eco friendly building materials out there, and it takes recycling to heart. And it just goes to show you that blue jeans never really go out of style!

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Eco Friendly Building Materials: Engineered Wood Products

Real wood is one of the most eco friendly building materials out there, due to the fact that it is renewable and doesn't break down into toxic chemicals. However, there is a lot of waste associated with the use of real wood, and that means that more and more trees must be harvested to keep up with demand. Only a fraction of harvested wood can be realistically used for lumber, due to knots in the wood and the shape of the limbs. Engineered wood products are one of the most environmentally friendly building materials because they can make better use of the leftover bits and pieces.

By taking smaller pieces and either pressing or gluing them together, 60 - 70% of the wood can be used for building purposes. This results in fewer trees being cut down and less overall waste. Engineered wood can look great too. Check out engineered hardwoodflooring for some fantastic flooring options.

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Eco Friendly Building Materials: Energy Efficient Windows

One of the most important upgrades you can do to your home is installing energy efficient windows. These eco friendly building materials are not easy to justify purchasing: the initial expense is really high. However, saving 25% or more on your yearly heating bill will add up over time. Spending less energy on heating your home saves you money, but more importantly it saves energy. If you live in a region where power is supplied by fossil fuel sources, it's well worth the switch.

Energy efficient windows consist of multiple panes of glass. They either have an air pocket in the center, or they can have multiple plastic films and gasses like krypton or argon. Not only do these windows keep warm air in, they reflect UV radiation and keep the heat out during the summer, so you can save on air conditioning costs as well.

Energy efficient windows are a large initial expense, but they'll save you money and they're one of the most environmentally friendly building materials around.

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    • Insightful Tiger profile image

      Insightful Tiger 4 years ago

      Fantastic hub! I'm glad that the west is starting to use bamboo more. I was amazed at how much faith the Chinese have in bamboo- its used to steady bigger trees and even to make platforms for construction workers when working on buildings. The stuff is strong and it's great for cutting boards because, as you said, it is resistant to pests, rot, mold, and bacteria. I was not aware of the short time it takes to mature. Thank you for sharing with us! voted up and pinned :)

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This is very interesting. I like eco-friendly products. Thank you for sharing some of your research with us!

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      I had not heard about the blue jean insulation. I am all about eco friendly anything, so I loved this article. We built our solar home in 1988, and incorporated the low e-glass options as well as the engineered flooring. We spend very little on power, partly because we burn dead fallen wood; but also because we oriented our home so that it is built into the ground partially. It's kind of like the old dugout type dwellings on the western plains. Our house faces the south south-west to take advantage of solar energy as much as possible. It was a tough sell to the banks at the time, but we finally secured our loan and have never regretted our 'green' decision.

      Voted this excellent article Up, Useful and Interesting; also pinned

      ;) Pearl

    • Parallels profile image

      Parallels 4 years ago

      I always like reading about green ways to build houses., interesting stuff. I'd never heard of blue jean insulation before!