Top Alternative Building Materials for Homes

Written by  //  December 2, 2020  //  Construction Materials  //  Comments Off on Top Alternative Building Materials for Homes

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The green movement is seeing more success, with more people switching to reusable water bottles, recycling plastic, and driving electric cars. On the construction front, more people building their dream homes are paying attention to their impact on the environment.

Builders have never had access to so many eco-friendly methods of construction. They’re introducing families to these top alternative building materials for homes, drawing on inspiration from the past for a new vision of the future.


Is bamboo sustainable? Considering it can grow up to three feet in 24 hours, it’s a safe bet. It’s not technically wood; it is a perennial grass that spreads without requiring replanting. It grows on every continent except Europe and Antarctica, so sourcing it couldn’t be easier.

Its green benefits aside, bamboo has even greater compressive strength than brick or concrete. It’s also lightweight, so it’s less expensive and energy-intensive to transport, and its impressive durability means it doesn’t need replacing as often as other materials.


Cork is also a fast-growing resource: it’s actually bark, harvested from a tree that continues to live and generate more cork. It’s flexible yet tough, and can bounce back into shape even after sustaining pressure. People use it in floor tiles because cork absorbs noise and shock.

Uncoated, it’s naturally fire-resistant; when it does burn, it doesn’t release toxic gases. Like bamboo, it’s lightweight to transport, with the bonus that it’s nearly impervious to water and rot.

Straw Bales

They worked in the past, and builders find them extremely useful in new homes. Even better, one bale can cost as little as $5—including delivery. Straw bales are often locally sourced and sealed for use as extremely effective insulation. They are replacing concrete, plaster, gypsum, and many more materials that can take a toll on the environment.

Adobe Brick

Made of clay and straw, adobe dates back about 4,000 years. Entire civilizations relied on adobe for shelter. To make adobe, you allow bricks to dry in the sun and then cut them for more complex designs. The southwest has always relied on adobe, but it’s also catching on around the country as dependable insulation that can reduce energy bills and keep home temperatures consistent.

That means adobe also reduces a home’s carbon footprint. It’s a good material even in urban areas, where the adobe can muffle the sounds of traffic and other noise pollution. Adobe has more budgetary advantages: it’s non-combustible and easy to insure.

Today’s sustainable dream houses are inspiring lifestyle changes, with homeowners looking for environmentally friendly communities outside cities like Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas. They are even seeking lesser-known green-construction pioneers like Asheville, North Carolina and Crestone, Colorado.

In these areas, the landscape is changing, thanks to the prevalence of alternative building materials for homes. They may be a glimpse of what the rest of the country will look like in the future.

image credit: Pixabay

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