Examples of sustainable building materials:
Green roof/sedum roof
A green roof is a roof covered with plants. The term "sedum roof" is also frequently used. This type of succulent is a popular type of roofing material, because it is one of the lightest material options for creating a green roof. In fact, many types of green roofing materials are relatively heavy. Before you get excited and start covering your roof with plants, you should therefore always check whether your roof structure is suitable.
Why should you opt for a green roof? They have numerous advantages! For example, they provide a more constant indoor climate and are good for the environment. A green roof has, among other things, a positive effect on air quality and biodiversity. And it can absorb water.
Recycled building materials
Is it possible to recycle building materials during your renovation or new development project? Go for it! In that case, you don’t have to use any new raw materials and the production or processing of such raw materials does not require the consumption of new energy. And if you manage to keep the transport distance short as well, you are going totally green with recycled building materials.
Timber can be a very environmentally friendly building material, provided it comes from sustainably managed forests. It is a natural, bio-based material that can store CO2, which is a great advantage. A disadvantage is that timber is sensitive to moisture and may shrink, expand or rot. For outdoor use, timber is therefore almost always treated with chemicals, making it less environmentally friendly.
Timber can also be used for the construction of buildings. Of course, timber-framed structures are a well-known option, but if you are looking for an alternative to a (high-rise) construction made of concrete or steel, CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) may be an interesting option.
You might think that bamboo is a type of wood - and it does look a lot like it - but bamboo is really a type of grass. It can be a very suitable building material to create the interior of a building, but since it is sensitive to moisture it is usually not the best option for the exterior of a building.
If you like to use sustainable building materials, a huge advantage of bamboo is that it grows incredibly fast and doesn’t require any pesticides. Some types of bamboo grow as much as one meter per day, but, on average, bamboo normally grows between 5 to 20 centimetres a day.
With respect to bamboo, it is also important to select bamboo that comes from small, certified plantations. Because it is a very popular material nowadays - it is also increasingly used for clothing and various utensils – unfortunately not all bamboo is grown in an ecologically responsible way.
Hemp is also increasingly used as a building material. Like bamboo, it grows quickly and doesn’t require any chemical pesticides. Not to mention that it also absorbs a lot of CO2 while growing!
Hemp fibres are strong and can be used in many different ways. Nowadays, it is even used as a fully-fledged building material by mixing the fibres with lime. An important area of consideration is that this so-called hemplime is not strong enough to build a load-bearing structure without a frame.
A type of wood that doesn't require the cutting of trees? That may sound too good to be true. However, the cork oak is such a type of wood. The cork can simply be peeled from the tree after a certain period of time (approx. 10 years). However, it is one of the more expensive (bio) building materials.