In our last piece here we discussed the strong push for energy-efficient construction for both commercial and residential structures. Builders focus on the tight envelope, meaning the better a structure can keep out the rain and wind, the tighter the envelope.
We discussed 3 materials that are some of the best recycled building materials used today and can be found from disposable containers or other items. Today, we’re going to take a look at 3 more recycled building materials that can be used in constructing commercial and residential structures:
Who hasn’t played with Legos when they were a kid? Think of using straw in the same manner as building with Legos, only stronger. How is straw one of the recycled building materials? As a byproduct of grain, which is often burned after the farmers have harvested all they want of it. By using it to build, itit makes grain recyclable. When straw is kept dry, it can last for 1000s of years and it is a great insulation for walls made of plaster or stucco. A bale of straw weigh between 50 to 92 pounds and with 300 med-size bales, you could build a 2,000 square foot house.
Because it is reflective, everyone knows that you wear white instead of black during the summer to stay cool, right? To have a cool roof, it would be great to have a large white T-shirt to stretch over your house, but that’s not realistic. What is realistic is the new technology that gives us roofing materials that are treated with something like a light color shingled but still come in dark colors, allowing it to reflect heat back up into the atmosphere, keeping our homes cooler.
Structural Insulated Materials
A structural insulated panel is much like an Oreo cookie. The SIPs are made with two pieces of cement panels, plywood or strand board that sandwiches a layer of foam insulation. Experts estimate that you can save as much as 50% on energy cost compared to the more conventional materials that are used. It is also fire resistant and can be used in the basement, for the floors and foundation and even load bearing walls. While it isn’t a pretty look all its own, it can be made more aesthetic with finishes like stucco or wood-grain.
We have more articles coming about the various recycled building materials that are out there today for building your next home or office. They aren’t making another Earth, so we need to do what we can to make this one last for generations to come!