When you think of sustainable building, you may immediately think of saving energy — and that’s great! Green energy systems are critical to the protection of our natural resources. However, amidst thinking about energy, you may forget the cornerstone of sustainable building: the materials you use.
It turns out, the materials you use to build your home are just as important as energy-saving practices when it comes to building sustainably. Read on to learn more about sustainable building, why it’s important, and what materials to use as you get started planning your new construction.
What Is Sustainable Building?
Sustainable building is a method that takes into consideration both the eco-friendly structure and the application of processes. The building should improve the ecosystem, conserve energy and natural resources, and reduce emissions that are harmful to humans and other living creatures. It should maintain these principles throughout its entire life cycle, which includes these five steps:
- Operation and maintenance
Why Should I Build a Sustainable Home?
Of course, the main reason to build a sustainable home is to reduce your environmental footprint. However, building a sustainable home is not only good for the environment — it’s also good for you!
While taking action to reduce consumption of energy, resources, and harmful substances, you’ll also find yourself changing your lifestyle to incorporate products and practices that can improve your family’s overall health.
Also, sustainable building is worth the financial investment. Although the initial spend may seem like a bit much, you’ll probably end up saving money in the long run by seriously cutting down on your utility bills.
At the end of the day, sustainable building requires a new way of thinking and a bit of a lifestyle change, but it ends up being a win-win situation for you and the environment.
What Materials Should I Use to Build a Sustainable Home?
Sustainable building materials consist of renewable or recyclable resources. Here’s a list of some of our favorite ones that are sure to look great in your home. Don’t worry if you can’t incorporate them all — installing just a few of these options can reduce your environmental impact tremendously.
Sustainable Flooring Options
From the natural grains of hardwood floors to the feel of plush carpet between your toes, there are a variety of sustainable flooring options that are sure to make anyone happy. Some of our favorites are:
- Hardwood – Naturally, hardwood is a great sustainable flooring option because it is made of a renewable natural resource. The problem many homeowners run into is that they buy from manufacturers who use environmentally harmful harvesting methods and toxic finishes. However, there are manufacturing and finishing options out there that are completely safe in a variety of wood species.
- Cork – Cork is lightweight, beautiful, and has great thermal properties. It maintains similarly to hardwood flooring, but provides a little more softness, making it extremely comfortable to walk on even if you’re barefoot. It’s also hypoallergenic, fire and moisture resistant, and insect resistant.
- Bamboo – Bamboo is not wood, but a woody grass. However, it mimics the look and feel of hardwood flooring. When harvested and manufactured sustainably, it is non-toxic, formaldehyde-free, and made with zero volatile organic compounds (VOC). It’s also applauded for its durability and availability in various colors, grains, and plank widths.
- Marmoleum – Marmoleum is a natural linoleum that is bio-based, highly durable, and antimicrobial. It has the lowest environmental footprint of any flooring option, as it’s made with natural ingredients like linseed, limestone, tree rosin, and wood flour. It’s also the most affordable and easiest to clean of these sustainable flooring options.
- Wool carpet – The most environmentally friendly carpet option is wool carpet, which is made from sheep fleece. Sheep regrow their fleece in less than a year and it doesn’t harm them to shave it off, which makes wool one of the most sustainable fibers on the market. Wool carpet ages well and provides a distinct softness and warmth to any room.
Sustainable Roofing Options
Many sustainable roofing options are extremely long-lasting and durable, even in harsh weather conditions. Here are some options to consider:
- Rubber shingles – Rubber shingles are made from recycled materials, making them a great, environmentally responsible choice. Also, they’re able to withstand harsh weather conditions, most notably hail, lightning, and fire. They’re proven to be about 2-3 times more durable than asphalt shingles.
- Slate and clay tiles – Slate and clay tiles are waterproof, fire-resistant, and durable (like, able-to-last-hundreds-of-years durable!). Their natural coloring and thickness variations make them a great choice for homeowners looking for a beautifully unique exterior.
- Architectural shingles – Architectural shingles are different from asphalt shingles because they consist of two asphalt shingle strips laminated together, making them a little more durable. The best part is that architectural shingles are available in lighter colors, which reflects the sun’s light and cools your home down naturally, instead of spending energy and money on air conditioning.
Sustainable Cabinetry and Countertop Options
Your kitchen is the “hub” of your home, so of course you want to ensure it’s full of beautiful cabinetry and countertops. Luckily, there are sustainable options that can provide that beauty, and they come in a variety of styles, colors, and prices to fit your needs.
- Cabinetry – Similar to flooring, natural hardwoods are a great sustainable option for cabinetry — as long as they’re natural. You can use a variety of wood species, as long as they don’t use toxic materials like formaldehyde and VOC.
- Countertops – Sustainable countertops can be made from recycled glass, recycled paper, bamboo, or Marmoleum. These options can provide the same look, feel, and easy upkeep as popular countertop materials like granite, butcher block, and laminate.
Ready to get started building your new home, the sustainable way? Our sustainable community is perched on a 355-acre plateau with scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in all directions. To be a part of it, schedule a tour today.
Learn more about couch mountain
Ready to relax on The Couch? Get in touch for site plans and pricing information.