Today there is a strong push for energy-efficient construction, in both commercial and residential building. For the builder side of this quest, their focus is the tight envelope, meaning the better a structure can keep out the rain and wind, the tighter the envelope. So when a builder can get that tight envelope using recycled building materials, then they have reached the ultimate in building.
And this brings us to disposable containers. While most people will agree that one of the biggest wastes we have are disposable containers, there are some things we need to consider as we wait for the laws to put in place that will ban them.
Disposable Containers and Packages
Surprisingly, some of the most useful recycled building materials we have today are from disposable containers and packages. Call it trash if you want, but when you think about how much they go through, they have to be strong. They go through production process then they are shipped. Then they are shelved in stores (have you ever watched stocking clerks load shelves? They aren’t exactly gentle with the merchandise). And then they are handled by consumer after consumer after consume.
Best of all, not only do you generate your own “trash” but you can go get recycled materials just about anywhere today. After the contents of the containers and packages are gone, they aren’t going to cost you anything, right? So with just a little effort and work, we could make some great use out of the aluminum, glass and steel that is filling our landfills.
Coca-Cola the Crowd Pleaser
Not that we are promoting any particular brand, but for example, Coca-Cola has a 48-ounce bottle they call the “Crowd Pleaser”. When you take twenty of those bottles and apply 10,000 pounds of pressure vertically, they were resilient. Compare that to almost 1,000 pounds of concrete blocks that are usually used in construction.
So while you ponder that little bit of information, let’s take a look at some other materials that you can recycle and have a structure that is as strong as anything else:
This material is growing more popular every day as a durable material for green building material. If you review the information provided by the Steel Recycling Institute, it just may have you thinking twice about using wood beams. Steel is strong when put up against earthquakes and high winds. When you compare the fact that it takes as many as 50 trees to build a house versus 6 scrapped cars to build one of steel, which would you say is the best of recycled building materials?
New life has been given to a technology that is at least 60 years old with the drive for finding recycled building materials. Concrete forms are made by “cast-in-place concrete walls that are sandwiched between two layers of insulation material.” Once the concrete is poured, the forms serve as layers of insulation and become a fixed part of the building. Findings from a study in 2010 found that structures made from these insulated concrete forms saved as much as 20 percent in energy compared to wood frame structures in colder climates.
Polyurethane Rigid Foam
When the manufacturer of surfboard material was fined by the EPA and went out of business, because of toxic chemicals they were using, a San Diego surfboard manufacturer began using plants like bamboo, hemp and kelp, to produce a foam material. Now this material is used in furniture, insulation, turbine blades as well as surfboards. It has a resistance to heat and moisture and is excellent for acoustics. It also provides protection of mold and pests and beats fiberglass or polystyrene with a higher R-value.
A Higher Cost
Still, with all these “new’ materials on the market for building, builders are shying away from them because of the cost factor. If they use them, they have to charge more and as a home buyer, you’re going to shop for the best price, hence, you pass over builder A because he may be eco-friendly using recycled building materials, but you’ll pay for that ‘green’ approach. As business owners and homeowners, it is up to us to take that hit initially knowing that we’ll save our money over the years in energy costs.