Sustainable Building Materials for Your Next Project

Sustainable Building Materials for Your Next Project

Because the construction industry has traditionally been a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, many of today's building companies and contractors have committed to efforts to better protect the environment. Due to the global focus on sustainability, many builders start their efforts by choosing more eco-friendly construction materials. As a bonus, many of these sustainable solutions offer significant cost savings over those traditionally used in building.  

Sustainable materials are not new, as some builders have implemented these alternative solutions for decades. However, as shortages, increasing costs and concerns over the recyclability of conventional construction materials grow, a broader industry shift toward alternative resources makes sense.

What Factors Make Sustainable Building Solutions Different Than Traditional Materials?

Knowing why some materials are more sustainable than others is a critical first step in making your construction operation more environmentally conscious. Sustainability involves selecting materials that help prevent the depletion of the planet's natural resources. Some of the determining factors that define sustainability for building materials include:

  • Recyclability: Understanding which types of materials are recyclable is an essential part of adopting a more sustainable building process. Traditional materials like steel, wood, plastic and concrete are recyclable to a certain degree, while other materials like conventional windows and ceramics are not. The most vital step in becoming more sustainably conscious is ensuring that the waste and leftover building materials make it to a recycling facility instead of a landfill.
  • Local availability: Using locally sourced materials benefits the environment by lowering the energy, fuel and emissions associated with shipping. The same concept applies to the construction equipment you use for your project. Even if you own equipment, renting is sometimes much more beneficial, especially if your job site is far away from your company's central location.
  • Amount of recycled content: Choosing materials manufactured from recycled content is another crucial step in practicing sustainable building. Walls made from empty aluminum cans, structures made from automobile tires and cinder blocks consisting of plastic bags are just a few examples of innovative ideas.
  • Durability: Durability is a critical sustainability factor because it translates to minimal maintenance, fewer repairs and a longer life span, resulting in less energy consumption.
  • Green manufacturing: Another crucial consideration in pursuing sustainability is choosing a supplier that practices green manufacturing. It's possible to manufacture building resources utilizing toxin-free materials and renewable energy sources while disposing of the waste in an environmentally friendly way. Many of these vendors promote their sustainability efforts to differentiate themselves from the competition.

What Are the Most Sustainable Building Materials?

Some of the most sustainable building materials available today include:

  • Bendable concrete: Bendable concrete is a highly durable material that's much more resilient and requires fewer repairs than traditional concrete, which is brittle and easily breakable. Manufacturers infuse bendable concrete with carbon dioxide to maximize its strength while using less cement and lowering carbon emissions.
  • Smart glass windows: Smart glass uses advanced technology that allows the glass to adapt to how a building uses heat or air conditioning, resulting in lower utility costs. During colder months, the glass turns transparent to promote heat absorption from the sun. In cooler months, the glass becomes translucent to block heat from the outside.
  • Bamboo walls and flooring: Bamboo offers many of the same benefits as traditional wood while having a significantly shorter harvest cycle. In addition, bamboo produces minimal waste, as builders can use entire stems and compost the leftover remnants.
  • Recycled plastic: Plastic has emerged as one of the most sustainable construction materials. Instead of sourcing and milling new ingredients, manufacturers produce concrete from recycled plastic bags and ground-up trash to decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Salvageable materials: Reusing old materials such as wood, rubber and brick has always been an essential sustainability principle. This concept gives materials a second life and keeps waste out of landfills. In many cases, these materials cost less and can enhance a building's appearance and functionality.

Benefits of Using Sustainable Materials

When builders choose these sustainable materials more often and adopt the proper recycling practices, everyone benefits. Several specific advantages include:

  1. Preserving the planet's natural resources.
  2. Promoting the local economy.
  3. Improving energy efficiency and generating cost savings.
  4. Reducing waste and minimizing landfill usage.
  5. Enhancing a building's durability and increasing its life span.
  6. Building a more comfortable and healthier structure.
  7. Making the world a better place.

Choose The Cat® Rental Store for Your Construction Equipment Needs

When you select sustainable materials for your building project, it's also vital to use the most energy-efficient, productive and durable equipment. The Cat® Rental Store dealer network connects you with a comprehensive line of high-performance construction equipment that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promotes sustainability. Locate the Cat dealer nearest you or browse our equipment selection to learn more.

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