Oct 20 2010
With the big push toward green building these days, more and more manufacturers are coming up with ways to use recycled materials to create new building materials. Below are five such items. Talk to your builder about the possibility of incorporating these materials or others like them into the construction of your new home.
1. Aluminum Panels: Not only do aluminum siding and roofing panels use recycled materials, but they can be recycled again at the end of their life cycle. For instance, in 2003, flat-rolled, construction grade aluminum manufactured in the US used 80-85% recycled content. Recycled aluminum requires 95% less energy than virgin metal and reduces water pollution by 97% and air emissions by 95%.
2. Concrete: Coal burning power plants produce fly ash as a waste product. Typically, the wasted ends up in landfills. But, some earth-friendly concrete manufacturers have found a way to mix it with lime and water creating a usable mixture similar to Portland cement, a major component used in concrete driveways, sidewalks and foundations. This fly ash compound is a superior building material because the coal combustion creates tiny spherical particles that make the mixture smoother and reduce friction during mixing and pouring.
3. Insulation: Insulation is available from a few different recycled materials. The most commonly known insulation made of recycled materials consists of recycled newspapers that are shredded. Denim, such as old blue jeans, has also been reused and transformed into insulation. Recycled paper insulation is more readily available because newspapers are produced and distributed in mass quantities making it easier to collect and reuse for insulation.
4. Trex: This compound is an ideal alternative to wood. It consists of a combination of recycled plastic and reclaimed wood. Plastic shopping bags are the main source of its plastic fibers while sawdust and used shipping pallets make up the wood portion. Trex’s unique combination of plastic and wood fibers creates a wood-like material that is more durable than standard wood. The plastic protects against any damage from moisture and insects. The role of the wood is to prevent UV damage that is common with plastic materials. Trex products include many of the things traditionally made from lumber such as fencing materials, railings, boards for decking and trim products.
5. Salvaged Wood: Salvaged wood is becoming more popular in new home construction. Any wood taken from a pre-existing construction project, such as an older home or building that is being torn down, and is reused in a new construction project is considered salvaged wood. This can include anything from wooden beams, doors, flooring and decking. Sometimes old wood, or salvaged wood, offers an advantage in new home construction. In some cases, new wood is not thoroughly dry, which means it may shrink overtime causing the new home or building to shift. Old wood is fully cured and dry. It will not shrink so there is no worry about the building shifting. Another advantage of old wood is its size. Trees used for lumber in the past were larger in girth meaning old trees and old wood have fewer knots. Salvaged wood and salvaged wood products are available through dealers that specialized in reclaimed wood and at some salvage yards.
For additional information on green building, check out The House Plan Shop’s resource section.