Building a sustainable construction industry: The top 5 greenest materials

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Sustainable materials are shaping the future of eco-friendly building practices in the UK. With more corporations realising the significance of their environmental footprint, many projects now emphasise their overall contribution to sustainable, low-impact development.

In 2022, the biggest segment of the UK construction industry was repair, maintenance, and housing. With eco-friendly practices as part of every construction firm’s toolbox, even for domestic housing, we can start to revolutionise building and replace outdated, harmful practices.

The 5 most sustainable material types in modern construction

  1. Naturally sourced materials

When they’re harvested sustainably, biological materials offer an eco-friendly alternative to manmade polymers and metals. Renewable by nature, they provide a low carbon footprint and therefore the potential to reduce a brand’s overall environmental impact.

Materials such as bamboo, hempcrete, and mycelium can be used in construction projects. Bamboo, for example, produces very little waste and anything leftover can be composted. When blended with concrete, rugged feature walls can be created. A characterful, weathered finish should be expected with natural fibres.

  1. Resin-infused woods

When it comes to strengthening structural integrity, resin-infused wood can transform a project. Since 2022, the UK has collaborated with Mexico to harvest more resin sustainably, reducing deforestation and thus protecting the vital ecosystems that produce it. 

Traditional timber is susceptible to decay and decomposition, but when new beams infused with resin are installed in their place, they offer stability, durability, and much greater resistance to the elements.

When they’re professionally worked into wood and beams, resins offer unrivalled stability, greatly enhanced workability, and impressive resistance to moisture. For any renovation project, this material shouldn’t be overlooked.

  1. Recycled aggregates

Because they’ve been used in construction for so long, aggregates often end up in landfill when they’re disposed as part of wider renovation projects. From crushed concrete to reclaimed asphalt, these fragments can play a vital role in various applications.

With heightened resource efficiency, reduced waste generation, and the potential to lower carbon emissions, construction businesses should seek any affordable opportunity to recycle and repurpose construction aggregate. 

  1. High-performance insulators

In modern house construction, some synthetic insulation materials can be hazardous pollutants. While insulation is essential for any building project, natural fibres like cellulose, sheep wool, and cork should be considered as alternatives.

These not only provide excellent thermal performance but contribute to the overall energy efficiency of the building, fostering a comfortable indoor temperature and environment throughout the year.

Synthetic insulators might perform similarly in some areas, but they are not as breathable as natural fibres. This might easily lead to issues such as mould and condensation. Natural fibres promote stable moisture and humidity levels within buildings.

  1. Photovoltaic solar panels

Lastly, powering buildings sustainably is a pressing issue during the climate crisis

However, with specialist solar panels, buildings and communities can generate their own clean and renewable energy, reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, and start contributing to sustainable power generation.

Solar panels simply capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity. However, the only condition is that the energy must be used or stored immediately. This makes small-scale solar installations ideal for villages and remote communities. 

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