The days of slapping together some timber and mud on a flat surface and calling it a home are long past. We’ve left asbestos insulation, lead paint and creosote-soaked wood in the rear-view as well. So, what modern Eco Minded Solutions for home upgrades and construction are available in lieu of the old and toxic options we’re not using anymore?
Used for everything from flooring to t-shirts, bamboo is a popular eco-minded building solution. What makes it a good choice for preserving nature? Bamboo isn’t a tree, it’s a grass. This means that instead of taking 25+ years for it to regenerate enough to be harvested, bamboo can be harvested every three years. Also, bamboo can be used as more than just flooring in your home. It’s also used as tiles, lumber, countertops, trim and outdoor decking. Bamboo tops both the sustainability and versatility lists.
Wool? Like from sheep? Yes, wool, from sheep. You can buy wool insulation the same way you buy fiberglass: in bats and sheets. Unlike fiberglass, you don’t need a protective suit to install the wool. Fiberglass is inferior to wool in other ways, too. Wool is 10% more efficient as an insulator, it’s superior at sound-deadening, is flame-retardant and is compostable when its usefulness is over. Wool can also pull nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and formaldehyde out of the atmosphere, improving air quality in your home.
Some people put solar panels on their roofs. This is an excellent solution to harness the sun’s energy. However, you don’t even need a traditional roof anymore. Instead, you can install solar shingles in place of your roof. Because you can install them over your new or existing roof sheathing, they actually take the place of your traditional shingled roof. They’re weatherproof, too.
Tree bark can now be used as siding for your home. Not only is it naturally attractive, it can last up to 100 years without any maintenance at all. That means no painting and no sealant chores for you. The process of preparing the bark from already felled trees for your siding is called kiln drying. It uses no chemicals and removes all fungi and pests from the bark. Once dried, your bark siding will never warp or shrink.
Images of the Big Bad Wolf come to mind with this building material, but straw bales are more durable than you think. It’s actually a lumber substitute that creates thicker walls than traditional building materials and has a high heat resistance or R value. How sustainable are straw bales? They’re created from agricultural waste, so your answer is very sustainable. Straw bales are also fire resistant.
Rammed earth floors and walls are made of earth and a special low carbon binder that is then compressed into a hard material for your home. The finished product resembles sedimentary rock. It’s also useful as thermal storage, which means it soaks up the sun’s warmth during the day and releases it at night.
You can find so many different ways to upgrade or build your home and still reduce your carbon footprint if you’re open to new ideas.