If you want to make an environmental statement there surely is no bigger way to do so than to live in a home that is made entirely of recycled and recyclable materials. There are many examples across the globe of people who have come up with unbelievable ideas and turned them into reality. There are houses made of cans, tyres and bottles. Even old ships and aeroplanes are being used to accommodate some of the more adventurous recyclers out there.
Maybe these examples are a little too far-fetched for most of us, but we can find other ways of building our homes in a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way. Many of the popular construction materials that are in use today are recyclable; we just need to do more recycling and start choosing not to use non-recyclable products in the first place.
Thankfully, there are now globally recognised environmental certification systems in place to help improve the impact that construction is having on our planet. Systems such as BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) are essential as buildings account for more energy consumption than industry and traffic, not something that is common knowledge. With these measures in place it is hoped that the construction industry can help to provide us with buildings that are not only well designed, but also have been made with the entire life-cycle of the building in mind. With every aspect of the build, from conception all the way through to deconstruction, taken into account it is hoped that the buildings of the future will be less wasteful, and significantly less harmful to the planet, than those that have gone before.
While it may be a nice idea to have every building made from rapidly renewable resources such as bamboo, even the most ardent of green builders will concede that this just isn’t viable for inner city projects. It is for this reason that we need to look at what we are currently using and start to filter the good from the bad. Glass and steel structures are much better environmentally than a concrete building for instance.
Steel is a great example of a perfectly good recyclable material that is used in construction across the world. While the initial process of making steel is not the most environmentally friendly production method you could opt for, steels long lifespan makes it a very viable option. Couple that with the fact that steel can also be recycled time after time and you have an excellent material to work with.
The benefits of using recycled building materials are obvious. Lowering the amount of landfill waste, natural resource consumption and greenhouse gases are all clearly beneficial to the environment in both the short and the long term. Not only that, but using such materials in an innovative and fun way can produce stunning results too. Here’s hoping that living in a completely recyclable home will not be such a big statement in the future.