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.
While timber is a renewable resource, its harvesting is often associated with deforestation practices that are harmful to the environment. We look at the current state of sustainable timber in Australia, and how to make sure the wood you use for your build is as responsible as possible.Read more
Building cladding is not just for aesthetics; it is an integral part of a building’s envelope and needs to be carefully selected to ensure the best performance. Lance Turner looks at cladding options and the pros and cons of each material type.Read more
Rain and heat mean different cladding and finishing choices in the sub-tropics, says Stephanie Skyring, an architect based in Brisbane. But a focus on sustainable materials is key, no matter the climate.Read more