Green=Building-Materials-from-NJ-Architects

photography by Lisa Russman

When you’re building your new home, you have a lot of decisions to make. Among these are the materials that you use for both the interior and exterior structures and surfaces. Architecture that includes green and sustainable materials not only reduces the carbon footprint of your project but can also save you money in both construction and upkeep. What materials are architects in NJ using to minimize waste and build more eco-friendly homes? And what does it mean for a material to be “sustainable” anyway? 

What Makes a Material “Eco-Friendly”?

There are many ways to define “green” materials, and you will need to decide which is most important to you. For example, substances that are recycled or made from existing components mean that fewer natural resources need to be used. Materials that allow your home to be more efficient and use fewer natural resources over the life of the house are also much greener. 

Products sourced locally require fewer resources to transport. And materials that last a long time and are appropriate for the climate or application could also be a consideration. That means you won’t need to replace them as often, which means lower resource consumption across the lifespan of the structure. 

The Latest Sustainable Materials Used by New Jersey Architecture Firms

So, which materials top the list for their eco-friendliness? Here are our top six picks. 

Bamboo

With fantastic durability and a high strength-to-weight ratio, bamboo is a prized construction material. And because it has a high self-regeneration rate, supplies can be replenished much more quickly than traditional wood. Bamboo makes an excellent option for many home-building applications, and it takes far fewer resources to transport than other conventional materials. It can be grown without replanting in many different climates, as well. 

Recycled Steel

When your new home design incorporates steel elements or requires beams or girders, look for recycled steel, which uses much less energy to create then new materials. In fact, recycled steel uses only 25 percent of the energy required to make new metal. And it means less junked cars and other materials in landfills and scrapyards. 

Sheep’s Wool

For a green alternative to insulate your home, try wool instead of fiberglass or spray foam. Wool lasts longer than other natural options, and it can be regenerated more quickly than other alternatives, like cotton. As more people seek out and adopt natural materials over synthetic ones, new options such as this, which was not even on architects’ radar a few years ago, will continue to enter the marketplace. 

Precast Concrete

As a natural and fully recyclable material, concrete is often high on green builders’ lists. When you opt for precast panels, which are made off-site and brought it, you also decrease waste and cost because you are benefiting from economies of scale. Concrete is strong and durable, and today’s finishes raise to a level of elegance never before seen.  

Reclaimed and Recycled Wood

When you reuse timber that has already been harvested and refined, you are saving energy costs as well as preventing further deforestation. You can use recycled wood in all aspects of home construction, from stud walls to flooring, and because it is a hardy material that lasts, you won’t have to replace wood materials quickly. 

Recycled Glass

From flooring to countertops to tiles, recycled glass can be used to create many beautiful and durable surfaces in your home. Glass is a 100% recyclable material, and several companies are now creating exquisite glass tiles and larger surfaces from industrial and residential waste. Glass makes an excellent alternative to resource-heavy materials like granite or marble. With unlimited colors from which to choose, your interior design will never suffer when you opt for this green material.