When it's time to build a new home or make major renovations to your current home, you may be concerned with how your choices affect the overall environment. Some materials are very difficult to harvest and may mean blasting and otherwise disrupting the environment, and some natural materials might be difficult to sustain so that it takes some time to see those supplies replenished. To make the most environmentally sound choice for your building supplies, note a few items you might want to consider and why they're the best option.
1. Recycled steel
Steel typically doesn't lose its strength over time, even when it's cut and otherwise fabricated for new projects. Recycled steel for a building frame can come from a variety of sources, including junked cars. This keeps the metal out of landfills and cuts down on harvesting the iron ore needed to make new steel.
2. Oriented strand boards
Oriented strand boards, or OSB, are made from strands of wood that are mixed with wax and a binder to form mats. These are then heat-pressed into panels and sandwiched around a rigid foam core. OSB panels are eco-friendly because the trees from which they're made are purposely chosen from varieties that are very sustainable and fast-growing. The panels can also save on waste during the building process, as they are typically prefabricated in a factory and shipped to the job site, where they are quickly erected. This is opposed to stick-built homes, where the wood is cut onsite and, in turn, wood scraps are produced and oftentimes simply disposed of and wasted.
3. Plant-based foam
Foam insulation can be very cost effective, as the foam can get into small cracks and crevices that might not be covered by fiberglass insulation. However, some foam insulation materials are made from artificial materials that are difficult to recycle or which might release harmful chemicals when they break down. Today, there are plant-based foams on the market which provide that effective insulation but which are made from bamboo, hemp, and kelp. These don't release those toxins, and the plants from which they're made are very abundant and easily sustainable.
4. Recycled composite lumber
Composite lumber refers to planks and other pieces that are made from a mixture of wood and plastic. This can make them more durable for a variety of uses, such as outdoor decks and even for framing. Composite lumber made from recycled pieces will mean recycled or reclaimed wood along with recycled plastic that is melted down or otherwise fabricated and mixed with the wood. This too keeps those materials out of landfills while providing a strong material for construction.