Thank you! Pharos Project Pharos is a project of the Healthy Building Network HBN who has partnered up with key players in the green building movement to bring you this tool. Pharos seeks to define a consumer-driven vision of truly green building materials and how they should be evaluated in harmony with principles of environmental health and justice.
Sustainable building materials
The Operating Principles of the Pharos Project are transparency, comprehensiveness, independence, accuracy and fairness applied to analyzing the impact building materials have on human health, the environment and communities — during production, use, and at the end of their useful life. They have compiled a variety of information on recycling construction waste. Concrete is a material that quite literally holds our cities together.
From homes and apartment buildings to bridges, viaducts, and sidewalks, this ubiquitous gray material's importance to modern urban life is undeniable. But you might have heard that it also has a dirty secret: the production of commercial concrete materials releases tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide CO2 into the atmosphere each year, contributing to the calamity that is climate change.
But it doesn't have to be that way. We have collated 11 green building materials that offer alternatives to concrete, and a lower environmental impact. Rather than relying on new research and technology, straw bale building hearkens back to the days when homes were built from natural, locally-occurring materials. As its name might indicate, grasscrete is a method of laying concrete flooring, walkways, sidewalks, and driveways in such a manner that there are open patterns allowing grass or other flora to grow.
In fact, walls that have a similar feel to concrete can actually be created with nothing more than dirt tamped down very tightly in wooden forms.
11 green building materials that are way better than concrete
Rammed earth is a technology that has been used by human civilization for thousands of years, and can last a very long time. Modern rammed earth buildings can be made safer by use of rebar or bamboo, and mechanical tampers reduce the amount of labor required to create sturdy walls. HempCrete is just what it sounds like — a concrete like material created from the woody inner fibers of the hemp plant. The hemp fibers are bound with lime to create concrete-like shapes that are strong and light.
HempCrete blocks are super-lightweight, which can also dramatically reduce the energy used to transport the blocks, and hemp itself is a fast-growing, renewable resource. Bamboo might seem trendy, but it has actually been a locally-sourced building material in some regions of the world for millennia.
What makes bamboo such a promising building material for modern buildings is its combination of tensile strength , light weight, and fast-growing renewable nature. Used for framing buildings and shelters, bamboo can replace expensive and heavy imported materials and provide an alternative to concrete and rebar construction, especially in difficult-to reach areas, post-disaster rebuilding, and low-income areas with access to natural locally-sourced bamboo.
Instead of mining, extracting, and milling new components, researchers are creating concrete that includes ground up recycled plastics and trash, which not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but reduces weight and provides a new use for landfill-clogging plastic waste. Plain old wood still retains many advantages over more industrial building materials like concrete or steel. Not only do trees absorb CO2 as they grow, they require much less energy-intensive methods to process into construction products.
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Properly managed forests are also renewable and can ensure a biodiverse habitat. Mycelium can be encouraged to grow around a composite of other natural materials, like ground up straw, in molds or forms, then air-dried to create lightweight and strong bricks or other shapes.
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Compared with defects of conventional building materials, the use of high-performance building materials can promote the quality of buildings, reduce the improper use or overuse of building materials and also promote the level of the living environment. For instance, we can use the high-performance sound insulation materials to promote the quality of sound environment; or use highly permeable paving units to strengthen the water retention capacity of the base, all these are where the new values of high-performance green building materials lie, and also with its help to promote the combination of green technology with architecture, the cross-field integration of industry including the academic circles, research and development so as to improve the architecture value and bring the innovation of architectural industry as a whole.
On the basis of ensuring the performance of materials we should limit the stipulations on the use over the harmful waste materials and avoiding the secondary pollution with bad influence over the health. The regulation on source-oriented reclamation from the wastes is formulated and the ratio of reclaimed wastes to recyclable building materials is defined. For the performance of recyclable building materials, it is designed with priority to reclaim nine kinds of construction debris for reuse and to multiply the use of recycling green building materials through the public engineering procurement channel, and also to strengthen the acceptance of the recyclable building materials through coordination with relevant control measures for waste treatment.
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In addition to above requirements for health, high-performance, recycling and ecology, general rules of the Green Building Material will be formulated and will serve as the basic benchmark which four assessment items should meet. It is intended to pick up the building materials with stable performance through audit for assessment items, which can meet the basic characteristics of green building materials and control the manufacturing process.
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However, there comes with a new definition in by the international academic circles, which goes: the materials which have the minimum load on the earth environment and produce no harm to the human health in the process of raw material acquirement, product manufacturing, application as well as the cycle of regeneration and reuse are collectively called the Green Building Material.
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