What are the Best Sustainable Building Materials?

Custom Homes Built Sustainably in the Evansville, Indiana Area

What are the Best Sustainable Building Materials?


What are the Best Sustainable Building Materials?

The building and construction industry is one of the leading activities contributing to the largest carbon footprint.  The design of a home, the materials used to build it, and the transportation of materials to the job site are some of the highest contributing factors.  While there are several ways homeowners can reduce their carbon footprint, we, as homebuilders, have a responsibility to build and design homes sustainably from the very beginning. At Modern Structure, we’re focused first on providing high quality, custom homes while using sustainable building materials and design practices whenever possible. 

Below, we’re discussing 9 of our favorite sustainable building materials that help preserve the resources we have for future generations. 

9 of Our Favorite Sustainable Building Materials

1. Laminated Timber

Laminated timber is layers of engineered wood that is glued together. This material is strong and has a high structural capacity, meaning, it’s great for framing homes. While it is considered to be one of the strongest building materials, it also has the potential to replace steel and concrete, whose manufacturing processes have a much higher carbon footprint than laminated timber. 

Even better, laminated timber has a beautiful wood-like look that can be glued into unique shapes that wood cannot be.  

2. Stone

Because stone is a naturally occurring material, mass factory production isn’t required, drastically cutting down on CO2 emissions. Natural stone is stunning when used as a building material or inside the home as countertops, fireplaces, or tiles.

Authentic stone is gorgeous on its own, saving contractors and homeowners time, money, and energy not painting or finishing it. 

3. Reclaimed Wood

Wood is far and wide the most popular building material available. Its natural beauty, grain patterns, strength, and ease of use makes it ideal for framing, furniture, cabinetry, and floors. 

During construction, some wood is wasted from cutting, trimming, and mistakes made.And during reconstruction projects, where buildings are restored to their full potential, wood is often torn down and replaced with new materials. Today, reclaimed wood from older structures and job sites can be reused and preserved, making it possible to use in new home building projects or furnishings. 

4. Precast Concrete

Precast concrete is concrete that is poured into a pre shaped mold, then cured in the appropriate environment. After it’s dry, the concrete is removed from the mold and transported to the job site, where it is installed. This differs from conventional concrete methods in which concrete is poured, molded, and cured on site.  

Since precast concrete is made in exact measurements and then shipped to the construction site, there’s potential to reduce waste and save time and labor.

5. Recycled Steel

Get this: The world produces enough steel to build an Eiffel Tower every 3 minutes! That’s 180,000 Eiffel Towers in one year, that amount of steel production can be harmful to the environment. 

Although it can have a negative impact on our environment, steel is still necessary for supporting large structures and building frameworks. Fortunately, steel is incredibly tough, and never loses its quality or durability, so it can be used over and over again. When we can, we seek out and use recycled steel for new home builds.

6. Bamboo

In addition to its distinctive and dreamy vibes, bamboo is a type of grass that is just as strong as wood, yet more flexible. Bamboo is actually one of the most sustainable building materials available, because it’s one of the fastest growing plants and its light weight makes it cheap to transport. 

Bamboo is used frequently in engineered flooring, furniture, fabrics, and paper.

7. Recycled Plastic

Plastic is one of the most widely used and produced materials on Earth. Luckily, plastic that is discarded or recycled improperly still has the potential to be used again. And in the construction industry, this can lead to cost savings and more sustainable homes.

Plastic can now be recycled to create building materials like plastic sheets, bricks, lumber, shingles, PVC windows and doors, concrete, and more! 

In recent projects, we have used recycled plastic products for exterior decking and as landscape retaining timbers.   

8. Recycled Glass

Glass is one of the hardest materials to recycle, and in the Evansville area, more and more waste companies are rejecting glass as a recyclable material. As a step in the right direction, building and construction projects can use wasted glass to imitate natural sand, gravel and crushed stone.

In several of our builds, we use insulation that is actually made up of a large portion of recycled glass.

9. Cork 

Like bamboo, cork is a super sustainable building material because it grows quickly, and can be harvested from a living tree that will grow and produce more cork. This is unlike natural wood, where trees have to be cut down, and can no longer produce wood. 

Cork is flexible, and can revert back to its original shape after being put under pressure. You’ve probably seen luxury vinyl floor products that use cork backing, which we install a lot of in our builds.

Custom Homes, Within Budget, With Sustainability in Mind  

We know that when designing and building a new home, your budget is at the top of your list of priorities. Can building with sustainable products save you some cash? The real answer is that…….. it depends. 

When we sit down with you to talk about building a custom home, your budget is our top priority, and we only make use of sustainable products when it makes sense. We always seek out products manufactured within our area to reduce shipping and transportation emissions. From there, we weigh the pros and cons of using other sustainable materials for your build. 

Some products have the potential to lower your total building cost, or can save you cash on your energy bills over time. Whatever the case may be, our experienced team will stay honest about costs throughout the entire building process.

To learn more about our focus on sustainability, or to schedule a free new home building consultation, give us a call today!