Choosing Renewable Resources when Building Homes
Traditional resources to build housing can have a severe impact on the environment. Materials that have been used for decades to build our homes can release harmful toxins into the atmosphere and their extraction and manufacturing processes use energy and emit carbon dioxide.
Modern property developers, designers and builders are now looking at ways to circumvent these problems and come up with new build housing solutions that have less of a negative environmental impact. Eco-friendly houses are starting to be constructed that use reclaimed and recycled materials in their construction, are painted with toxic free paints and use renewable energy sources for power.
Some designers have gone even further and have completely rejected traditional building materials in favour of environmentally sound resources. Straw bale homes are now starting to be built in the UK and several companies are offering their skills in this field. Plastered on both sides, straw is a cheaper and natural building material that offers excellent insulation and a level 6 under the Code for Sustainable Homes. Cob houses are also enjoying a small resurgence in some areas of the country. Cob - a traditional material made from sandy soil, clay and straw - is strong and durable as well as having the benefit of a zero carbon footprint. It does not even have any carbon emitted in the transport of its materials as generally it is produced from on-site materials. As well as being cheap to produce, cob houses are reputed to be healthy and well-insulated.
Stabilised rammed earth is another resource being adopted for use in new building projects in the UK. With excellent weather resistance and great strength when used in construction, it meets European building regulations and is prized for its attractive appearance. Over the last three decades, an increasing number of rammed earth buildings have been constructed worldwide. Hemp lime blocks are also becoming more popular as an eco-friendly building material. This lightweight and carbon negative resource not only reduces labour costs because of its fast build time but reduces transport and handling costs too. It is also an excellent thermal insulator leading to reduced heating requirements and its ability to retain heat during sunny periods and then release that warmth in colder weather or overnight reduces energy bills and lessens the property's carbon footprint.
As well as eco-friendly building resources, modern new build properties can also be insulated with materials with a low environmental impact. Materials such as hemp, wool and soybean foam insulation are top green options when it comes to insulating new homes as they use natural resources and are sustainable. These materials are also thought to be less harmful to human health as well as the environment than traditional fibreglass insulation.