Unusual Materials for Home Construction

Building with eco-friendly building materials can create a distinct home while saving on energy bills and potentially lowering insurance premiums. But which materials should you choose when planning to construct an eco-friendly house?

Mushrooms, old tires and straw are just a few of the materials used to craft sustainable buildings. Read on to discover some of the most creative and unusual green building concepts out there!

1. Concrete 3D Printers

Concrete 3D printing gives architects and engineers an accessible means of realizing complex designs not feasible through traditional construction methods. 3D printers may speed design processes while cutting labor costs as well as waste material and energy consumption.

There are two primary types of concrete 3D printers: gantry systems and robotic arm systems. Gantry systems feature an overhead printer head with pivoting arms that move around an intended structure in an x, y, and z axis for printing layers of concrete to fill out desired shapes until it is complete.

The material used for 3D printing is not traditional concrete, as this clogs printer nozzles. Instead, special concrete made to be compatible with 3D printing has been developed using ingredients found in traditional concrete (such as cement, sand and stone). This cementitious composite, commonly known as C3DP is ideal for fabricating buildings, homes or construction components in shapes impossible with traditional molds.

2. Straw Bale Homes

Building a straw bale home involves using a structural frame to support its roof and filling walls with bales stacked around an inner core of bales. While more expensive than conventional construction methods, this approach has less energy consumption and environmental impacts. Furthermore, lenders may view it as experimental or risky, making financing harder sell; insurers could decline coverage.

Properly packed straw insulation offers a higher R-value than standard insulation materials, by trapping air – the true insulator – in small chambers to prevent convection loops of warm and cold air from convecting into each other. In addition, straw can stand up against strong winds without fire risk or mold growth; furthermore it’s fire retardant. Unfortunately it can be sensitive to moisture; builders must use moisture-proof paints on interior walls in order to protect it against moisture damage as well as exterior weather protection – although recycled bales encased by thick plaster shouldn’t risk ignition from loose straw that might pose severe fire risks; loose straw poses severe fire hazards but tight bales encased within thick plaster are unlikely to catch fire easily enough.

3. Recycled Materials

Many building materials can be recycled or reused, including sheep’s wool – an eco-friendly material which regrowns quickly for insulation use – and reclaimed wood, which has lower environmental impacts than harvesting new trees.

Glass is another material that is easy to recycle. Ceilume, a company specializing in thermoformed ceiling tiles, uses 100-percent recycled production waste as well as collecting scrap from customers to form a closed-loop lifecycle system.

Metals, such as aluminum, are easy to recycle. Aluminum can be melted down and transformed into new items like containers. Other recyclable materials include paper and cardboard, tyres, organic waste, and plastics – saving the equivalent energy consumption of 322 gallons of gasoline! Recycling was widespread during times of resource scarcity such as world wars; now it has become part of many businesses’ operations as an essential practice.

4. Earth Houses

Earth houses are just what their name implies – buildings constructed entirely out of earth. Usually this material comes directly from the site or elsewhere on the property to help keep costs low. Earth can be formed into walls in either straight or curved forms, as well as dome shapes which eliminate additional framing requirements for roofing structures.

Constructions built using these unconventional techniques tend to be extremely energy efficient, with natural insulation providing substantial cost savings on electricity consumption. While some home insurance providers might hesitate to cover such dwellings, forward-thinking insurers may welcome such unique dwellings with competitive rates for coverage.

Other eco-friendly constructions include bermed earth houses, which bury themselves into hillside or underground landscapes and can come in both modern and artistically designed forms. One particularly energy efficient type is made with straw bale walls that act as insulation.

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