Construction materials like bricks and cement are essential components of most projects, but their creation and use have a significant impact on the environment. A Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction Report found that production of construction materials like concrete, steel, and glass accounts for approximately 11% of all global carbon dioxide emissions.
As the world becomes more eco-conscious, more manufacturers are starting to turn to the production of carbon-smart building materials that can replace traditional cement, roof shingles, bricks, siding, and much more. The following six low-carbon building materials are either available right now or will be very soon.
1. Kenoteq’s K-Briq
Each year more than 1,500 billion bricks are produced globally. If those bricks were stacked end-to-end, the pile would reach to the moon and back 390 times. Nearly all bricks are made of clay—an abundant natural resource. The problem is that curing bricks requires a lot of heat, usually generated by burning fossil fuels. Not the K-Briq from Kenoteq, though. Made from 90% construction site waste, they don’t require kiln-firing to harden. This allows them to be produced at a commercial scale using a fraction of the energy traditional bricks need. K-Briqs will be used to construct the Serpentine Pavilion 2020 in London’s Hyde Park.
2. Hoffman Green Cement’s H-UKR
Concrete alone is responsible for an estimated eight percent of all global carbon emissions, so it’s a natural target material for companies striving for a greener construction industry. French-based Hoffman Green Cement Technologies has developed a new cement formulation, made using blast furnace slag, a waste product that comes from steel production. The company says their formula emits just a fifth of the carbon that traditional methods do, with comparable compressive strengths.
3. Kedel’s Recycled Plastic Cladding
Plastic is made from petroleum, and so its production uses a large amount of oil. Kedel, a company based in Lancashire, UK, has created an alternative to plastic or cement building exterior cladding made from recycled high-density polystyrene. Its production does not require the high-levels of energy needed to manufacture new concrete or plastic, making it an eco-friendly alternative. It’s available right now in five different finishes.
4. Classic Metal Roofing System’s Rustic Shingle
Ohio-based Classic Metal Roofing Systems sells roof shingles made from up to 99% recycled aluminum, most of which is post-consumer. The Rustic Shingles are made to function like ordinary shake or shingles, but with a distinctive look and highly reflective coatings that the company says can save homeowners up to 25% on their electricity bill. Rustic Shingle roofs can even be applied on top of existing roofs, saving time on reshingling while keeping waste out of landfills.
5. USG’s EcoSmart Wallboard Panels
Requiring only 75% of the water needed to produce traditional gypsum sheetrock is just one eco-advantage the EcoSmart Wallboard Panels from USG have over conventional materials. They’re also around 20% lighter than regular drywall, meaning their transport burns less energy.
6. Lamboo Structure
Bamboo is a mega-absorber of carbon emissions, capable of capturing nearly 80 metric tons of carbon for every hectare grown. Therefore, the very act of planting it already helps reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Illinois-based Lamboo sells a line of building framing components, such as beams, trusses, and posts, made from engineered bamboo. The company claims the materials have 30%–50% more tensile strength than comparable woods.