If you are planning to build a new home it is a great opportunity to make it environmentally friendly. This does not necessarily mean expensive as some materials can be even cheaper than traditional building materials. Other items like solar panels offer long term savings and upfront costs are also often subsidized by governments offering refunds for part of the costs.
Concrete and brick have both positive and negative things to consider. A good choice for areas where the climate varies greatly, concrete and bricks helps to insulate against the summer heat and also retain heat during winter.
They do however have some negatives when taking environment into consideration. Bricks and concrete is quarried from the earth and heavily processed. The burning of bricks in a large kiln also impacts on air quality.
Transport includes not just the concrete and bricks but also sand, soil and stone from a quarry to the processing plant.
The best choices for bricks are mud bricks are as they take very little processing. And for concrete products choose an aerated concrete, the finished product contain 80% air.
Wood is a natural resource and disappearing faster than we can grow it. It is important to keep to the following guidelines when choosing timber for building materials.
Seek out recycled timber wherever possible. And select certified timber from a “well managed forest”. This means the wood comes from a re-growth forest rather than a plantation.
Some alternatives you can consider instead of using timber are:
Recycled steel frames, bamboo, plant-based plastics, recycled plastic lumber and recycled paper timber.