Make an informed choice
Every building project involves many decisions, both big and small, on the materials to be used. This can be complex, as every material has an impact on our natural environment and our society in terms of its production, use and disposal. This needs to be weighed up along with the material’s expected contribution to the energy efficiency and comfort of the house, and its financial cost.
Environmental and social considerations for selecting materials include:
- Embodied energy (the energy consumed by all the processes associated with the production of a material, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport and product delivery)
- Renewability of the raw material
- Durability, longevity and maintenance requirements
- Toxicity of the manufacturing process and the material itself
- Health impacts (for more information, see our Healthy Homes ebook)
- Waste minimisation during production and installation
Read on for an overview of some common materials in sustainable homes.
Adored for its thermal mass benefits and durability, concrete remains one of the most popular building materials in the world, but its shockingly high embodied carbon footprint cannot be ignored. Luckily, there are now a number of greener alternatives available. Jacinta Cleary examines how they have performed in three different homes.Read more
Concrete is a beloved building material for its thermal mass benefits, versatility, strength and durability, yet comes at the cost of shockingly high embodied carbon. Happily, more environmentally friendly mixes are coming online. Experienced sustainable designer Dick Clarke looks at the problem and some of the latest solutions.Read more