10 January 2020
Sustainable Materials For Low Carbon Buildings
Sustainability, the size of our carbon footprint and our overall impact on the environment is a big talking point.
With more of us looking for ways to make a small change, be more sustainable overall and reduce our negative impact on the world, it’s no surprise that low carbon buildings, often referred to as eco buildings, have become particularly popular over the last decade.
The demand for sustainable materials for low carbon buildings show no signs of slowing either, with government initiatives, press coverage, television shows such as Grand Designs and the promise of beautiful, modern and innovative designs enticing even more people looking to construct their own home or office.
The most desired sustainable materials for low carbon buildings is ever changing, with newly developed styles emerging all the time as the industry for these more eco-friendly alternatives continues to grow. In this blog post, we use our industry insight to outline some of the best sustainable materials for low carbon buildings right now.
What makes a material sustainable?
So, you’re interested in creating your dream new build or improving your existing space? That’s great—low carbon buildings are a great way to reduce your impact on the environment.
But what makes a construction material sustainable? Sustainable materials are those which have a relatively positive impact on communities and the environment which are used to manufacture them. These materials should provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting the environment over their entire life cycle, from their manufacture to their final disposal.
In construction, as well as in other industries, the less that needs to be done to the material before it can be used usually makes it more sustainable and means it has a lower carbon footprint. This is because less energy expenditure has taken place to get the material ready for use.
Compressed earth blocks
This might seem a bit prehistoric, but using compressed earth which is stabilized into blocks is a great alternative to other building materials used in masonry.
Compressed earth blocks are a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to the popular clay brick, which requires a burning treatment at high temperatures to become durable.
Earth blocks can offer similar strength when used in wall structures, but are manufactured by compacting soil, sand, a stabiliser—usually cement or lime—and water. This process saves approximately 60-70% more energy than that used in the manufacture of clay bricks.
Both a natural product and requiring little treatment in preparation for use, this construction industry staple is luckily also fairly sustainable. Often repurposed wood from other constructions, using timber for your building project is one of the easiest ways to boost your sustainability.
What’s more, timber can be easily recycled and reused, having very little long-term impact on the environment. However, it’s important to note that adding finishes to protect these materials increases their overall impact—some varnishes for wood can limit its recyclability!
Steel is one of the strongest construction materials out there, with this material making up the joists that keep buildings standing. But producing and smelting steel takes a considerable amount of energy, and although it’s long lasting, it’s far from eco-friendly to produce.
But steel can be sustainable and come with a low carbon footprint. Utilising steel already in existence for beams, joists and more in your build can help reduce the need for newly produced materials, cutting energy costs by as much as 75%.
If you’re looking to create a sustainable and low carbon building, get in touch with Eden London today. We’re an accredited Carbon Neutral contractor with the Carbon Society and can help you achieve a carbon neutral fit-out.
For more information about us and how we can help bring your construction plans to life, get in touch with us today.