Sustainable Building Products for Home Construction in the US

SustainableBuilding Products for Home Construction in the US

Buildingand everything that goes into it ranging from the raw materials, thestructure design, and the life cycle of every product has a greatconsequence on the well-being of people, as well as the environment.Sustainable building, also known as green building is a structuredesigned, built, operated, renovated, or used in resource-efficientand ecological manner (Boonstra57).Sustainable building meet certain objectives such as improvingemployee productivity, protecting occupant health using water,energy, and other resources economically, as well as reducing theoverall effect to the environment. Sustainable buildings are verybeneficial. Although the initial costs are high, it saves more onlower operating costs in the future.

Thesustainable building approach applies analytical process and projectlife cost to calculate costs of the assets and determine theappropriate up-front expenditure respectively. However, these costsavings are only achieved when they are integrated in the project’sconceptual design phase with the help of professionals.Correspondingly, the integrated systems approach ensures that thesustainable building is not designed as a collection of stand-alonesystems but as one design (Kibert160).Unfortunately, it is not easy for the sustainable building to fulfilall its benefits such as reducing pollution and landfill waste, andimproving occupant comfort, health, and productivity. Nevertheless,there are also not considered in the cost analysis. In most cases,sustainable building measure can be integrated with zero or minimalup-fronts cost hence, high savings.

Thetype of products selected at the initial stage of the building have agreat impact on the longer-term sustainability. In addition, thechoices have great implication for improving bushfire resilience,saving energy, and improving comfort. Typically, the green materialsthat are considered green are renewable plant materials such as mudbrink, straw, recycled materials, and timber direct from the forest,and any other product that is reusable, renewable, and non-toxic.Some example of the green/ sustainable material are concrete, ICFblocks, timber, mud brick, straw bale, timbercrete, rapid wall,brick, and rammed earth.


Concreteis a perfect material used to create thermal mass in a home designedby passive solar. During cold and hot temperature, the thermal massregulates temperature and keeps it cool in summer and warm in winter.


ICFmaterial was initially used in Australia together with thermacellblocks. Normally, these systems comprises corner blocks and wallblocks that are pulled together onto a solid foundation, likefootings and concrete, to build complete wall.


MostUS countries use timber to build their buildings. This is becausethey are flexible, strong, and readily available, and if sourcesproperly, timber is renewable. Furthermore, timber is an easymaterial to build with and requires relatively basic skills hence,an ideal material for -builders.


Mudbrick, as the word sound are the bricks made of mud. Commonly, theyare built on the construction site with the local soil provided thereis enough clay content. The builders mix soil and water and thenreinforce the mixture with straw and sometime cement. Next, thebuilders press the material into the wooden and leave them for sometime (Boonstra,60).Later, the form bricks are left to dry for several weeks. Since themud bricks are made from natural materials, they are non-toxic,recyclable, sustainable, and healthy materials for home construction.


Similarto mud brick, straw bale are also good sustainable choice since theyare made from natural materials that are recyclable, non-toxic,sustainable, and health material for home construction (Kibert156).Builders stack rectangular straw bales to form walls, and then fixthem with wooden and metal pins. Later, they shape and trim beforerendering them with cement or mud depending with renders.


Timbercreteare combination of concrete and timber waste especially the sawdust.Timbercrete are lighter than solid concrete but with betterinsulating capabilities and greater strength. Normally, timbercreteproducts build wall with R rating that is superior than othermaterials expect for strawbale.


Accordingto Wilsonand Mark (69), rapidwall is a load-bearing wall construction systemthat assembles the inner and the outer wall at ago by the use oflarge prefabricated panels. The prefabricated wall comprises offibreglass reinforced water resistant gypsum plaster moulded indifferent sizes. Commonly, the panels are three meters high andtwelve metres long hence, it is possible to prefabricate the entirewall, as well as install onsite with a crane.


Brickare clay bricks that are advantageous due to their high thermal masshence, they regulate heat to the required temperature. However, forthe bricks to be effective they must be placed inside the houserather than outside.


Mostpeople confuse rammed earth with mud brick, but rammed earth is amixture of clay, gravel, cement, sand, cement, lime, and otherwaterproofing additives. Every component is carefully proportionedand mixed, and a machine is used to make a stone-like wall that iswater resistant, load bearing, massive, and long lasting.

SustainableBuilding Materials Fundamental Principles

Thesustainable building materials have six fundamental principles:optimize site potential, optimise energy use, building space andmaterial use, protect and conserve water, enhance indoorenvironmental quality (IEQ), and optimize operational and maintenancepractises.

OptimizeSite Potential

Tobuild a sustainable building, proper site selection is a priorityespecially on reuse and rehabilitation of the material. The kind ofproduct used to build affects the local ecosystems, energy use, andtransportation method. Therefore, it is important to consider thekind of building whether it is a campus, shopping mall, campus, or amilitary base.

OptimizeEnergy Use

Nowadays,there is high demand for fossil fuels and the American are concernedabout the security, independence and the impacts of the globalclimate change. Therefore, the products used to construct asustainable building should increase efficiency, reduce energy load,and maximize renewable energy sources.

Protectand Conserve Water

Accordingto Keeler(23),in most parts of US, fresh water is a scarce resource. Accordingly, asustainable building should reuse or recycle water and use waterefficiently. Hence, the green building product should consume lesswater in transport, pumping, and treatment. In addition, thefinancial and environment costs of sewage treatment should put inconsideration.

OptimizeBuilding Space and Material Use

Normally,sustainable building materials should reduce life-cycle environmentalimpacts such as resource depletion, global warming, and humantoxicity. Hence, the materials should reduce human health effect andimprove workers safety, reduce liabilities, and disposal costs.

EnhanceIndoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)

Abuilding with an Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) has a significantimpact on occupant comfort, health, and productivity. Hence, thebuilding materials should have appropriate ventilation, maximizes daylighting, and also optimises acoustic performance and minimize VOCemissions.

OptimizeOperational and Maintenance Practises

Sustainablematerial should improve working environment, reduce energy andresource cost, maximize productivity, and prevent system failures.Hence, building designers should specify materials that reducemaintenance requirements, needs less energy and water to maintain(Keeler102).In addition, the material should be cost-effective and minimiselife-cycle costs.


Boonstra,Chiel.&nbspProceedings:International Conference Sustainable Building 2000.Best: Æneas, 2000. Print.

Keeler,Marian.&nbspFundamentalsof Integrated Design for Sustainable Building.Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley &amp Sons, 2009. Internet resource.

Kibert,Charles J.&nbspSustainableConstruction: Green Building Design and Delivery.Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley &amp Sons, 2013. Internet resource.

Wilson,Alex, and Mark Piepkorn.&nbspGreenBuilding Products: The Greenspec® Guide to Residential BuildingMaterials.Brattleboro, VT: BuildingGreen, 2008. Internet resource.