With any building project there are so many things to consider: costs, materials, the environment that will surround the build site and much more. The cost of building can become so much greater when considering your health. The less expensive materials might seem appealing in the short term for your savings but you may be paying for it in the long term within your body. Cheaper material is just that…cheap. In many cases, the materials have poor longevity; meaning you will have to follow up with costly repairs. The cheap materials typically require a lot of energy to produce, trap mold-producing moisture, and are full of harmful chemicals that emit into your home. When reimagining our living space one of our top priorities is creating a healthy environment. We spend so much of our lives in our homes yet many of the materials standard homes are built from are hazardous to our wellbeing.
A common hazard is asbestos. For those who don’t know asbestos is a fibrous silicate mineral. There are six types, which are composed of thin and long fibrous crystals. Microscopic fibrils can be released into the atmosphere when disturbed. If the fibers are inhaled, it can lead to some very serious lung issues like asbestosis and cancer. Asbestos has been used in a great number of products from brake pads, roofing materials and even cement pipes used to deliver water to communities. Asbestos is commonly found in older homes.
Mold is another issue to look out for when using common building materials. Many moisture barrier building products used to keep moisture out end up trapping moisture in, leading to mold infestation. When exposed to mold for long periods of time, you run the risk of many life-altering issues like asthma, breathing disorders, chronic fatigue, thyroid conditions, and cancer.
The good news is that there are healthy options and ABC aims to make the best ones available to you. Researchers, engineers, and builders have been addressing these issues and turning many of the problems into solutions. Many natural building materials are aesthetically pleasing, affordable, and great for air quality in your home. Here are a few different materials that are being used for healthy building around the world:
– Magnesium Oxide can be used in foundations, flooring, bricks, plaster, and mortar. It is an amazing material to combat mold as it creates a barrier that turns moisture into vapor so mold doesn’t stand a chance. MgO is a compound that is mined all over the world and is one of the world’s most abundant resources. MgO combines and works well with mulch, hemp fibers and other organic materials as a cement.
– Aircrete uses cement injected with foam. When mixed properly it is lightweight, bug proof, fireproof, and waterproof. It can take screws and even be cut with a hand saw, however when overlaid with construction fabric, like basalt mesh, it becomes incredibly strong and resistant to the elements.
– Straw Bales can be used inside the walls of a home. When sealed well it provides a high level of insulation in hot and cold climates. It is also very inexpensive and a renewable resource.
– Hempcrete is made of hemp fibers bound with lime or MgO to create strong and lightweight concrete-like bricks. Hemp is a fast growing crop and a readily available renewable resource.
– Bamboo is another fast growing, lightweight renewable resource with good tensile strength.
– Recycled plastic can be used too! Instead of mining or extracting new components; researchers are creating concrete that includes trash and plastic which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and harmful threats to animals and the environment. The plastic can be pressed into almost any shape.
–Mycelium, another natural and renewable resource, comprises the root structure of fungi and mushrooms. It can be dried and pressed into bricks and grown around a composite of other natural materials like straw in molds and forms.
–Cork is one of the most sustainable building materials in the world. It is lightweight, low cost, and insulative. It is harvested from the bark of a Cork Oak, grown in Southwest Europe and North Africa. This is an excellent resource as no trees have to be cut down for it to be harvested.
–Polyurethane plant based foam is manufactured from plants like kelp, hemp, and bamboo. It can be used in insulations and furniture building. It is highly resistant to moisture and heat, mold and pests.
–Newspaper wood. Recycled newspaper is glued, pressed, and cut then used for flooring, furniture, and many interior building needs. It is a very creative way to manage the excess of paper waste in the world and potentially could save thousands of trees.
Hopefully this small list has inspired you to reimagine your living space and further seek out other healthy building options. You may come up with the next great idea to help save our world! At ABC, we work diligently to innovate our own creative solutions, while collaborating with other great companies who are doing the same. Humanity made an unsustainable system, but together we will make a new system that has a circular economy for waste and neutral impact on the environment!