Sustainable Exteriors: New Eco-friendly Materials for Your Home
As today’s consumers tend to be more environmentally conscious than those of past generations, modern technology has been forced to transform the home improvement industry and create more options for eco-friendly materials. Before you begin home renovation projects using standard construction products, take the time to consider some of the various options available for creating more sustainable home exteriors.
Solar Panel Roof Tiles
Usually made of clay or asphalt, the ingredients used to make standard shingles or tiles for your roof are often inefficiently mined or poured. Not to mention, when they're removed or replaced, they're tossed into landfills, causing further environmental strain. In an effort to develop more sustainable home exteriors, technologists have devised clever, new, eco-friendly materials for roofing.
Do you remember when solar panels were first introduced to the home improvement market in the U.S.? Their design was large and bulky, and they required frequent cleanings in order to properly function. Now, companies like Dow Powerhouse Solar and Kyocera Solar specialize in photovoltaic solar panels that are designed to cover your entire roof and replace common shingling. These solar panel tiles are crafted to look like normal, everyday roofing shingles. With this new innovation, you can not only help reduce the creation of clay or asphalt shingles, but also harvest your own electricity with stylish, eco-friendly materials on your new sustainable home exterior.
Bricks offer a timeless, classic design and are easy to work with. They aid in home safety and durability, as they protect against fires and can withstand volatile climates. However, the block pieces are not great for the earth. In addition to using up natural clay resources to create the blocks, each brick must be fired in a kiln before it can be used in order to ensure beauty and durability. This process releases air-born pollution on a massive scale and has become a concern of industry experts and environmentalists alike.
To combat the polluting process of brickmaking, technologists have crafted alternative eco-friendly materials that possess the same great look and organic strength, so homeowners can have sustainable home exteriors that mimic the look and feel of traditional brick.
“FlyAsh” bricks supplement the clay of average blocks with a substance called fly ash. Rather than using the kiln firing technique to stabilize each piece, FlyAsh uses a compressing technique. The FlyAsh bricks need 24 hours to dry in room temperature conditions before use, but they may be the perfect solution for savvy consumers and DIYers.
Another alternative eco-friendly material to use for sustainable exteriors is recycled brick. Companies, like “Green Leaf Brick,” offer blocks that are made up of 100% recycled resources found in landfills and left-over factory debris. These faux bricks are often ascetically identical, but they contain glass, recycled iron oxides, and ceramic scraps.
Though many pro-environment DIY enthusiasts may be shocked to see cement make this list, it can be used to form sustainable home exteriors. Homeowners love the strength and look of cement, which is why so many use it for siding, décor elements, and landscaping. Although most people can agree that traditionally made cement is a detriment to the environment, it can be an eco-friendly material if the proper formula is used.
Traditionally, cement is made by mixing shale, limestone, and sand in a kiln and pouring it on a surface or into a mold to harden. The problem with this process is that the components need to be extracted and transported before the creation process can even begin. On the other hand, specialized cement recycled or substitute mixes and altered mixing techniques could be used to create a durable, beautiful project without leaving behind a hefty carbon footprint.
Homeowners using cement to for DIY projects should know that it is now commonplace to use recycled materials for more sustainable home exteriors. Rather than adding copious amounts of rock, you can get a more eco-friendly material by using recycled components as fillers to volumize the mixture. For example, you could incorporate fiberglass waste, broken mirror pieces, wood chips, and rubber to increase the amount of cement while reducing the need to wastefully source extra ground materials.
If you want to further reduce your use of a naturally-sourced concrete base, there are numerous substitute mixes available. These eco-friendly materials will decrease the amount of natural resources used in your cement, so you can feel better about building a more sustainable home exterior during your project. Companies, like Richway Industries, manufacture “Foamcrete,” which is a cement mix that forms lighter, more aerated, foam-based cement. When used, it requires less energy and decreases natural project emissions.