Being green and eco-friendly is the latest trend in architecture and the best one in our opinion. We’ve been using concrete for too long and we’re starting to forget that there are alternatives. Today we’re exploring those alternatives and checking out existing projects that make use of green building materials.
In case you’re not familiar with this concept, rammed earth has been around for thousands of years and while some of the techniques and details might have changed over time, the base principles remain the same. Rammed earth walls feel pretty similar to concrete ones and are also sturdy. The Great Wall of WA is the longest rammed earth wall in Australia, measuring 230 meters in total and enclosing 12 residences. The wall goes along the edge of a sand dune and was created to provide accommodation for a cattle station. The residences themselves have rammed earth facades and look absolutely amazing. This was a project by Luigi Rosselli Architects.
Straw bales have also been used for a very long time, just like rammed earth walls. They’re an alternative to materials such as concrete, wood, stone and others. Straw bales are used to create the walls inside of a frame and they can provide great insulation. Furthermore, this is a sustainable and affordable resource. This right here is a straw bale house built to replace an old shed. It’s small but comfortable and energy-efficient thanks to its insulation. Check out its full story on diyhousebuilding.
Created from inner fibers of the hemp plant, HempCrete is a material comparable to concrete but with an obvious advantage in the fact that it’s a green building material. The blocks are very lightweight and the hemp from which they’re made is a renewable resource. HempCrete is also highly insulating and airtight. regulating the temperature of the building and allowing it to be more energy-efficient.
Bamboo has been around for ages and recently it started to become more popular as a building material. It’s very versatile and it’s a fast-growing, renewable resource which already gives it an advantage of over concrete and other more common materials. Bamboo can also replace a variety of expensive materials, allowing you to keep the cost of your project low. Versatility is probably bamboo’s best feature. Here you can see it being used by architecture studio Vo Trong Nghia. They renovated Nocenco cafe, a rooftop venue in central Vietnam and they used bamboo to create an airy space with dramatic vaulted ceilings.
Wood is one of the most popular building materials on earth and wood log are especially great because they’re not processed and that means less waste. Also, logs are perfect for building cozy-looking cabins. You can use them for the entire structure, including the roof. Of course, if we’re to consider this a green building material the logs would have to come from a renewable source. Check out this charming cabin and the timelapse video of how it can build on YouTube.
Recycled plastic bricks are a thing, even if they’re not very popular. They’re lightweight and they’re made out of trash and plastic waste. You can use them just like concrete bricks to build the walls of a house and the process is super fast. This house, for example, was built in just 5 days. The plastic bricks were connected like lego pieces and that greatly simplified the whole process.
Mycelium is one of the most unusual building materials out there. It’s made from the root structure of fungi and mushrooms and it can grow around other materials in molds after it’s air-dried to create bricks or other types of modules. These bricks are strong and lightweight. This technique and this material can be used to create all sorts of unique and visually-interesting installations, such as these cool garden arches created by architect Carlo Ratti.
This is the world’s first tower made from fungus, designed by architect David Benjamin and his studio, The Living. The structure is built using mycelium bricks and has a design and a structure which actually make it look like a mushroom stem. This green building material pushes the boundaries of architecture and design.
Clay is another interesting building material. It’s most commonly used to create bricks or roof tiles which give houses a nice rustic appearance. Clay is also an an ingredient used in other materials including rammed earth, plaster or ceramics. It provides stability and durability and it’s very versatile. Believe it or not, you can even build a whole house out of clay. The COB house is the perfect example. Check it out on overgrowthesystem.
Ashcrete is an alternative to traditional cement. It’s made using Fly ash, a fine powder which is the byproduct of burning pulverized coal in power plants. It forms cement in the presence of water. Ashcrete can substitute concrete and can have a variety of uses. It’s strong and durable and it has the major advantage of being a green building material.