The term ‘sustainable’ is thrown about quite a bit these days. But, there’s more to it than adding some solar panels to the roof of an inefficient building and calling it a day. True sustainability is made up of many facets, from building materials to the use of renewable energy sources to design that strive for efficiency and harmony with the surrounding environment.

Are you thinking of going eco-friendly while building your dream home? Using green construction materials has benefits outside of the obvious environmental benefits, it can be beneficial for health, productivity, and sometimes even one’s pocket. Consider the use of materials based on their source, availability, as well as long-term maintenance for your property. For those working on a tight budget, materials can be salvaged from demolition sites that are a treasure trove of various items that can be salvaged such as timber, doors, windows, wood flooring, kitchen cabinets.

For those making the environmental friendly transition, materials to think about when going green should fall along the lines of the criteria below;

  • Sustainability – Materials should be sustainable, renewable and recyclable; for example, natural, local and grown so the supply is environmentally benign.
  • Energy efficiency – Both the production and the resulting energy demand on the building should be energy efficient.
  • Quality controlled for air pollution – Green materials selected for construction should not cause indoor air pollution and harm to human health.
  • Affordability – Materials should be affordable. Even if some costs upfront are high, a reduction in operational costs should help cover the extra initial cost.
  • Waste management considerations – The building materials should not contribute to waste and landfills. The ability to recycle material, or use products made from recycled material that in turn reduces waste, makes products green.

Building materials that are natural and can be cultivated are one of the most popular in green buildings since they can be renewable, and in many cases, need little or no processing. These materials can also all be recycled after use.

1. Wood – this traditional building material is still popular. It is considered one of the most sustainable. It requires little processing making it low energy-embodied. Wood can also be reclaimed from demolished structures and products and can be reworked into new wood. It’s just another form of recycling that can help you on your way to sustainability. Wood is good for structural and loading bearing components like beams for roofs, wall trusses, panels, non-structural elements like window trim, doors, cabinetry, flooring, wall facades and furniture. Wood is readily available across the country.

2. Thatch roofs – made of haystacks from water reed, wheat reeds, long straw and ridges, this natural roofing material has been around for centuries with a life expectancy of 10-45 years if properly installed and maintained. Though not common in the cities, it is still used in many places in Zambia.

3. Recycled metal – Mining has caused many terrible environmental impacts, such as sinkholes, soil contamination and disturbances to natural habitats around the world. Many metals can easily be recycled though, so there’s no need to be against the mining industry.  Iron, aluminium and copper are the three most recycled metals in the world, meaning you could easily include them in your building design.

4. Stone – Stone is a natural building material that can be sourced with relative ease. It is preferable over certain metals, glass and plastics that can pollute the environment, which often use a lot of resources to create. Stone can also be reclaimed, which could be an even better option for your building. Stone however, can be expensive as it must be quarried and the weight adds to transportation costs. However, stone remains a popular choice for its permanence and low maintenance features, if it can be sourced locally. Stone is used to make walls, foundations, in the garden, and as decorative elements in the house like fireplace and bathrooms.

5. Solar Panels — Take advantage of living in our sunny climate with Solar Power Generation System that converts all that sunshine into usable household energy. The cost of a putting up a building can accumulate immensely sometimes, but the construction and running of a house takes a toll on the environment that’s harder to measure. Increasing numbers of people are looking to minimize both environmental impact and financial outlay by outfitting their homes with sustainable technology. This has resulted in a global boom in sustainable building that is driving new levels of architectural innovation.

The cost of a putting up a building can accumulate immensely sometimes, but the construction and running of a house takes a toll on the environment that’s harder to measure. Increasing numbers of people are looking to minimize both environmental impact and financial outlay by outfitting their homes with sustainable technology. This has resulted in a global boom in sustainable building that is driving new levels of architectural innovation.

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