Browsing the "building materials" Tag

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Building a Tiny House With Straw Bales

According to Click Green, hay bales can make an affordable, energy efficient, and sustainable tiny house that can keep you and yours safe and warm far off the grid. The bales have 75% more insulating power than a traditional stud wall filled with fiberglass insulation, and are non-combustible because they have little to no oxygen […]

January 6th

Blue Jeans Go Green, Become Building Insulation

Want to donate your old blue jeans to a good cause and help the environment at the same time?  Drop them off at J.Crew or Madewell stores now through the December 31, 2014, and they will be sent to their next life as insulation material in a building! Cotton Incorporated’s Blue Jeans Go Green denim […]

November 13th

6 Building Materials of the Future

These futuristic building materials will change the way we construct buildings in the years to come. 1. Graphene Graphene is a one-atom thick layer of carbon.  It is thin, strong, flexible, conducts electricity, and is virtually transparent.  Researchers won the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics for developing graphene.  It’s potential uses include solar cells, touchscreens, […]

May 26th

What Are Health Product Declarations?

Health product declarations (HPDs) provide a full disclosure of the potential chemicals of concern in products by comparing product ingredients to a wide variety of “hazard” lists published by government authorities and scientific associations.  The goal of an HPD is to inform consumers about the types of chemicals that are in the products they install in […]

April 30th

10 Earth-Friendly Building Materials for Earth Day

Borrowing from Discovery.com’s 2012 top ten list of natural building materials, here are ten earth-friendly building materials, some old and some new. 1. Rock Locally sourced rock is the most earth-friendly, due to short transportation distances.  Extraction may be the most energy intense part of the life cycle of this material.  Rocks can be mortared together […]

April 21st

What is Life Cycle Assessment?

Life cycle assessment (LCA) looks at the environmental impacts of a building material over the entire life of the material, from extraction to disposal.  LCA attempts to quantify these impacts for the purpose of comparing materials or buildings. What is measured? LCA is a scientific study of the environmental inputs and outputs to a building […]

April 16th

DIY Wonderland

Australian website provides plenty to find for home improvement and gardening do-it-yourselfers The laundry list of what a DIY home improvement specialist may want or need is often considerably long, whether it pertains to materials, tools, or uncategorized equipment. Some times such a person my not even know what he or she needs until they […]

September 23rd

Looking at Sustainable Products: Paper Waste Used To Make Bricks in Spain

Researchers at the University of Jaen (Spain) have mixed waste from the paper industry with ceramic material used in the construction industry. The result is a brick that has low thermal conductivity meaning it acts as a good insulator. However, its mechanical resistance still requires improvement. “The use of paper industry waste could bring about […]

December 20th

Green Building Elements: Decking

It's full-blown summer now, and people are spending more time outdoors on their patios and decks. So let me offer a summertime question for discussion. Which is better to use for an outdoor deck: wood, or a manufactured product (like Trex, Timber Tech, etc.)?

This is no more a black and white issue than most other green building questions. This can depend on the particular situation and the specific needs of a particular project. I'm not going to give you a definitive answer, because I don't think that there is one, any more than I do for most green building topics (other than greener is better).

First, there is the issue of material content. On the one hand, the manufactured products often use some combination of wood fiber (which is often sawdust and other scrap that would otherwise go to waste) and plastic (sometimes incorporating post consumer recycled material). On the other hand, wood is a natural material. It is sustainable, in that wood can be grown and harvested. There are some deck materials that have natural rot-resistant properties, but these tend to be more expensive. There is also the question of whether or not they are sustainably harvested, as well as the issue of shipping these materials.

July 9th

Insulated Concrete Forms

<img src="/files/images/ICF.png" border="0" alt="Insulock" width="239" height="178" />Photo Credit: InsulockInsulated concrete forms (ICFs) are an alternative method for building concrete walls. They are most typically used for foundation (basement) walls, but can be used in some other applications as well. Of course, they offer green benefits. <br /><br />The most obvious improvement offered by using ICFs is the addition of insulation. Concrete has a very low <a href="http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11340">R-value</a> (an 8&quot; thick concrete basement wall would typically have an R-value of approximately 0.75; even less than a single-glazed window with an average R-value of 1.0). So concrete walls offer very poor thermal performance. Even in the summertime, a concrete basement wall will be cool to the touch, because of this. Adding even a small amount of insulation to the concrete wall makes it better, and ICFs provide a good way of getting an insulated concrete wall.

April 2nd