The Most Sustainable Building Materials

With increased attention toward sustainable lifestyles today, many people want to know what they can do to cut greenhouse gas emissions in their own lives. Some recycle more, while others opt for a hybrid or electric vehicle. While these are great lifestyle changes anyone can make, sustainability must come in other areas too. For instance, here are some of the most sustainable building materials to consider for your home alternative to traditional wood, concrete, or other labor and manufacturing-intensive options.

Recycled Steel

Steel is arguably the most common building material for large commercial properties today. However, manufacturing steel emits almost two tons of greenhouse gasses for every ton of steel produced. Annually, this results in millions of CO2 and other harmful greenhouse gasses in global emissions. To combat this, consider using recycled steel. Whether it’s from scrapped cars, torn down buildings, or elsewhere, steel is completely recyclable. Using recycled steel greatly reduces global gas emissions, lowers energy use, and prolongs the life of an existing material. Recycled steel even provides the same structural support and heavy-duty resistance needed for large-scale applications.


For those who are more plant-oriented, consider bamboo. Bamboo is one of the most environmentally friendly construction materials, given its high durability, longevity, and high growth rate. Even if more buildings use bamboo as a main construction material, there will still be enough to replenish what was used. Contrary to popular belief, bamboo is not a type of wood. It is a perennial grass that can grow in any arable climate. Bamboo materials have equal, if not greater, strength than concrete and brick, so even as structural support, it makes for a great alternative. Something to keep in mind is that because bamboo is a natural resource, it is subject to pests and rot. If you’re using bamboo, it’s best to treat it with resistance chemicals to avoid these issues.

Plastic Lumber

There are many reasons why plastic lumber is better than preserved wood. For starters, it requires less maintenance without sacrificing durability. That’s because plastic lumber uses high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. It doesn’t decompose or lose its aesthetic quality even after years of use. It’s also recyclable and manufactured from recycled materials. Even if you need to replace your plastic lumber, you can do so knowing you’re not contributing to climate change. Better yet, you can return your old plastic lumber to its manufacturer for repurposing.

Compact Earth

Another one of the most sustainable building materials to consider is compact earth. As traditional as it may seem, there’s a reason compact earth still remains a popular building material in warmer climates. For one thing, it’s naturally insulated. Compact earth stores natural sunlight, keeping you cool during the day and warm during the evening. Compact earth feels like concrete, and its sturdiness makes it an effective material for residential structures.

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