Tuesday, May 28, 2013

7 Creative and Recycled Materials for Eco-Friendly Buildings

Designers are continuously finding new, creative ways to design eco-friendly buildings. The shortage on natural resources and the pressure to put trash and recycling to good use has inspired designers to create buildings made out of recycled materials. What was once waste are now valuable assets for construction. Many of these materials are strong and durable, but are often sent to landfills without a second thought.

Plastic and glass bottles bonded with cement can be used instead of bricks. The different colors of the bottles can give an artistic glow to the buildings as well as provide natural light, even giving buildings a stained glass effect. Bottles have been used to create walls for houses and even temples.

Tires are low cost and heat efficient, yet millions of them are thrown away each year. Buildings made of tires are considered passive solar buildings, meaning that they distribute solar energy as heat in the winter and reject it during the summer, keeping the temperature in the building regulated without using electricity. Tires are especially useful in desert areas and are ideal in third world countries because of their efficiency.

Although cardboard is often thought of as flimsy and cheap, cardboard is being used for building materials, especially for temporary relief during crises--it is resistant to earthquakes, easy to manufacture, and inexpensive. The cardboard is rolled up into tubes and provides strong support; however, it is only expected to last for about 20-30 years.

Aluminum Cans
Aluminum cans can be flattened and used for houses. Often, these cans are stacked and mortared with lime or earth, creating bricks that are strong and durable.

A pallet is a flat transport structure and are often made of hard wood. In the US, 700 million wooden pallets are produced each year with 20% ending up as waste in landfills after shipping companies believe that they are too weak to hold materials. Designers have instead recycled these pallets and used them to construct houses.

Shipping Containers
Shipping containers are large, durable, and low maintenance. Recently, shipping containers have been suggested for Oklahoma after the tornados, as they can be easily shipped, stacked, and turned into homes or apartments in any kind of terrain.

Reclaimed Wood
Designers have been using wood from deconstructed buildings such as old barns, factories, and houses. The reclaimed wood gives buildings a rustic appearance, but these buildings are sustainable and eco-friendly. They can also be combined with other types of wood to create newer looking buildings.

Learn more about eco-friendly building materials and how to integrate them into your building project through our continuing education webinars: