10 Cutting-edge, Energy-efficient Building Materials


1
Earth
Adobe construction has been used for centuries, but there are currently no codes in the U.S. for building with this material.
Adobe construction has been used for centuries, but there are currently no codes in the U.S. for building with this material.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

If you want to build with walls of rammed earth or adobe, the great advantage is that the material is abundant, free and doesn't have to be transported to the job site. The downside is that you'll have a hard time finding specialized craftsmen who know how to build with dirt.

Countries including China, Peru and New Zealand actually account for this type of building in their codes, but the United States has not established codes for building from the earth. The difficulty of finding craftsmen who can do the job led the National Association of Home Builders to estimate that costs for labor could run at least $80 per square foot.

Even so, researchers at the association note that earthen walls provide excellent thermal mass, and the material comes from the ultimate in renewable sources.

Check out the links below for lots more information on eco-friendly building.

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Sources

  • California Straw Building Association. "FAQs." (Jan. 27, 2011)http://strawbuilding.org/pages/main.php?pageid=30#3
  • Caulfield, John. "New Research Touts Insulated Concrete Forms For Energy Efficiency." Builder Magazine. Dec. 13, 2010. (Jan. 27, 2011)http://www.ecohomemagazine.com/news/2010/12-december/new-research-touts-insulated-concrete-forms-for-energy-efficiency.aspx
  • Cool Roof Rating Council. "Cool Roofing Information for Home and Building Owners." (Jan. 28, 2011)http://www.coolroofs.org/HomeandBuildingOwnersInfo.html
  • Insulating Concrete Form Association. "About IFCA." (Jan. 29, 2011)http://www.forms.org/index.cfm/abouticfa
  • Malama Composites. "Construction." (Jan. 27, 2011)http://www.malamacomposites.com/applications/building-construction/
  • NAHB Research Center. "Low-E Storm Windows." (Jan. 25, 2011)http://www.toolbase.org/Techinventory/TechDetails.aspx?ContentDetailID=4042&BucketID=2&CategoryID=42
  • NAHB Research Center. "Recycled Wood/Plastic Composite Lumber." (Jan. 25, 2011)http://www.toolbase.org/Techinventory/TechDetails.aspx?ContentDetailID=659&BucketID=6&CategoryID=47
  • NAHB Research Center. "Straw-Bale Construction." (Jan. 28, 2011)http://www.toolbase.org/Techinventory/TechDetails.aspx?ContentDetailID=971&BucketID=6&CategoryID=13
  • NAHB Research Center. "Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) - Fiber-Cement-Faced." (Jan. 28, 2011)http://www.toolbase.org/Techinventory/TechDetails.aspx?ContentDetailID=977&BucketID=6&CategoryID=13
  • NAHB Research Center. "Vacuum Insulation Panel (VIP)" (Jan. 25, 2011)http://www.toolbase.org/Techinventory/TechDetails.aspx?ContentDetailID=845&BucketID=6&CategoryID=7
  • Ochsendorf, John. "Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Buildings." Massachusetts Institute of Technology. December 2010. (Jan. 28, 2011)http://web.mit.edu/cshub/news/pdf/BuildingsLCAsummaryDec2010.pdf
  • Portland Cement Association. "Insulating Concrete Forms." (Jan. 27, 2011)http://www.cement.org/homes/ch_bs_icf.asp
  • Steel Recycling Institute. "Steel: The Clear Cut Alternative for Building Homes." 2010. (Jan. 27, 2011)http://www.recycle-steel.org/PDFs/brochures/residenfram.pdf
  • Tomasulo, Katy. "Community Building." EcoHome. Aug. 18, 2009. (Jan. 27, 2011)http://www.ecohomemagazine.com/alternative-materials/community-building.aspx

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