by Elemental Green staff
As sustainable building expert Car Seville once said,“If we compare the average house to a car, it would have bald tires, leak and burn oil, and get about four miles to the gallon.” If you wouldn’t drive a car like that, you certainly shouldn’t have a house like that. Luckily, green building is booming and it’s revolutionizing every type of material, product, and technology related to home building, design, and renovation. Your options for eco -friendly construction materials are getting better every year so if you’ve been waiting for the right time to build your dream green home, the time to do it is right now. You’ll find a wide variety of exciting new products right here on Elemental Green, and today we’re whetting your eco-appetite with twelve companies leading the way with eco-friendly house building materials.
#1 Renewed Materials, Inc.
The company’s trademark, Alkemi, has three different lines of recycled surface material for your next countertop and it’s SCS Recycled Content-Certified. The ALKEMI-acrylic line is made with materials like pre-consumer waste aluminum, recycled acrylic, and copper flake, plus it boasts “no VOC content.” The ALKEMI-polyester line is made from post-industrial scrap waste, and has some funky-cool color choices. The newest line, ALKEMI-copper is our favorite! Sparkly and metallic, these surfaces look super unique and sophisticated, and are made with 84% recycled content. Another bonus-both ALKEMI-acrylic and ALKEMI-copper can help you earn LEED credits in your building project! These beautiful countertops could be a sustainable alternative to resource-intensive marble or granite that will look equally as lovely in your home.
Are you looking to green up your home? No, literally. You can have a green, living roof with LiveRoof’s special plant installation system. An experienced horticultural professional will help you pick out the best plants for the local climate and design a completely unique green roof for your home. They use 100% recycled materials to create the modules in which the soil and plants grow, use high-quality soil, plus have a smart filtration system. There are countless benefits to a living roof, aside from the fact that it looks pretty cool. Investing in this plant system will help prolong the lifetime of the roof underneath it (as much as 100-200%), because it will be protected from the elements. You can also reduce your energy use by up to 25% in the summer since the rooftop plants have a cooling effect on your home. An unexpected plus is that the soil and plants help out as acoustic insulators, so if you live in a high traffic area, you can still get a little peace and quiet. The environmental benefits are equally as amazing. A LiveRoof helps mitigate the urban heat island effect, reduces stormwater runoff, creates a habitat for local wildlife, and so much more. Easy installation, gorgeous aesthetic, eco-friendly. What’s not to love?
#3 Bark House
Toss aside traditional shingles and interior wall paneling, because Bark House will help you create a super unique look indoors and outdoors, using tree bark – an unexpectedly awesome eco-friendly construction material. They have a Platinum Certification from Cradle to Cradle, having met high standards like using environmentally healthy/safe materials, having a design for recycling or composting, and having efficient water and energy use, among other qualifications. The product possibilities are endless; bark shingles, and split wood fencing are just a couple outdoor designs, while indoors, you can use 3D textures, bark veneer laminates, and more. They do furniture and custom fabrication so that you can add just a little touch of nature or create a totally unique look for your home.
#4 Solar Activated Facade
There are more and more innovative ways to build being developed as we speak. One design that’s coming to North America is the Solar Activated Façade. It’s been established in Europe for over 15 years, but is just catching on over here. The concept is to create a high-performance insulation system by using wood and glass to capture passive solar energy. Because solar energy is absorbed and stored, it reduces the need for insulation, plus heating and cooling. You can incorporate SAF in a new building or add it to your existing home to gain benefits like energy savings, extra living space due to thinner walls, high recyclability, long lifespan, and low maintenance- just to name a few. The outside designs tend to be super-sleek, too-a cutting edge appearance for a cutting-edge system!
This Colorado-based company uses transition technology to keep your home warm in the cold months and cool in the hot months. A thermochromic filter is joined to the inside of an exterior glass pane, and an air chamber separates it from a Low-E coated interior pane. When the exterior glass hits a certain temp, the windows automatically tint to block solar heat. In the winter, they remain free and clear to let the warmth in. The best part is that you don’t have to do any of the work! The windows are smart – in a wireless way. There are no controls, switches, or Wifi to work with because the technology is innovatively simple. No fuss for you, plus lower energy bills!
#6 Black Mountain
Looking for an eco-friendly way to insulate your home? Fiberglass has nothing on sheep wool insulation, like the products from Black Mountain! Wool is a natural resource that’s been found to be a lovely alternative to traditional insulation and has countless positives to using it. First of all, it’s safe. Installation doesn’t require any protective gear, it’s non-carcinogenic, and it’s naturally flame resistant. It’s recyclable after it’s life as an insulator, it absorbs indoor air pollutants, and it’s an effective sound blocker of outside noises. Most of all, it’s an efficient insulator! The texture of sheep’s wool has millions of teensy air pockets that trap air, absorbing and desorbing moisture from it. This helps insulate your home from both steamy and icy weather. Does your insulation do all of that?
These 100% recycled glass countertops are so gorgeous, you’ll forget all about the marble countertops that you first had in mind when you started planning a kitchen remodel. IceStone countertops are made of 70% glass, the rest being Portland cement and non-toxic pigments. Other plusses include a 10-year warranty, scratch and UV-resistant surface, plastic and petrochemical-free, and USA-made. They also have a Silver Certification from Cradle to Cradle, which is no simple feat! Choose from the elegant Alpine White, go bold with Moroccan Red, or try dark and sophisticated with Gotham Grey, but that’s not all. You’ll find tons of vibrant colors to fit your home’s theme and know that you’re giving new life to used glass by way of beautiful countertops.
Kirei sources eco-friendly construction materials for architects and designers, using materials like bamboo, reclaimed coconut shells, and recycled plastic in their products. The company goes by the saying, “Do well by doing good,” and it’s clear that they’re living up to this standard. They exude contemporary design, yet are able to bring in the rustic outdoor feel if that’s what you’re going for. The Kirei Board, Bamboo, and Coco Tiles all have a taste of the beach that will bring warmth into your home. Kirei has an incredibly unique look to its sustainable products that may be just what you’re looking for!
Why is my energy bill so high this month? – you think to yourself. No more guessing where your money is being wasted! This Home Energy Monitor will help you find ways to save energy in your home through quick tips, real-time energy monitoring, bill forecasting, viewing past consumption, and more. If you go one step further with Intelligent Energy Monitoring, you can spot which appliances are the biggest energy hogs. This all might sound too high-tech for some, but the installation only takes about 15 minutes and is navigable through your smart phone. Neurio is yet another example of the increasingly popular smart home devices that can help your energy bill and help you cut down on fossil fuels.
#10 Fireclay Tile
Based in California, this company handcrafts tiles made from reclaimed materials. They grind up things like old glass and porcelain to make their signature clay body to use as the tile base. They were the first company to introduce 100% lead-free glazes back in 1988, and they continue to pioneer the eco tile business. They offer their original tile in 114 hand-mixed colors, glass tile, brick tile, “Edge” tile, and hand-painted. You could spend hours looking at all the color combos and hand-painted collections (hello, Mediterranean Collection!). Fireclay Tile is really invested in their values by taking care of their employees and the earth while producing stunning hand-made tiles for you!
#11 Niagara Conservation
If it’s about time to replace your toilet with something more eco-friendly, look no further. Niagara has some of the most water-efficient toilets we’ve seen, and they do look like normal toilets – no odd contraptions here! You don’t have to sacrifice quality for water-efficiency, either. These toilets are more powerful and more high-performing than your typical toilet. Our favorite is the Stealth Dual Flush Toilet with super quiet flushing power and two flush options. The half flush is only 0.5 gallons per flush, and the full flush is still only 0.95 GPF. Many toilets out there are up at 1.28 and 1.6 GPF!
Lower stress, lose weight, be more productive, improve air quality, beautify your space…what one thing can possibly do all that? LiveWall vertical gardens. This company believes that you can achieve all of these benefits by surrounding yourself with greenery inside and out. You can easily install the indoor garden system in your home, plus it can earn you LEED points. Outside, you can create perfect patio so that you’ll want to be in the fresh air all the time. The plant options are endless, too, and think of growing herbs right on your kitchen wall! This is your chance to be completely creative and get your green thumb going.
These 12 companies are just a few of the innovators in the world of eco-friendly construction materials, and it’s awesome how easy it can be to incorporate their products into your eco-home project.
Want to learn more?
- The Top 10 Sustainable Home Design Trends
- 12 Rules for Buying Eco-Friendly Building Materials [Infographic]
- 10 Eco-Building Materials Revolutionizing Home Construction