10 Best Rapidly Renewable Materials Used In Construction
What if we told you that buildings can cause pollution just like vehicles? Studies show that buildings consume almost 50% of our natural resources like water, minerals, wood, and energy besides impacting soil and producing harmful emissions. But thanks to the advent of sustainable architecture and responsible design, their impact on the environment has reduced remarkably. With the development of technology, a lot of rapidly renewable materials came into existence that are economic, innovative, and eco-friendly.
It is our responsibility to ensure that these materials can meet all the desirable standards.
Likewise, the selection of materials plays a huge role in construction as it helps in upgrading durability, aesthetics, and sustainability. The application of rapidly renewable materials in construction is one of such upgrades we must rely on in our journey of sustainability.
What Are Rapidly Renewable Materials?
Rapidly renewable materials are those elements that can be replenished within 10 years or less. These materials are composed of biomass and can be harvested in a short period. This process has multiple environmental benefits as it actively reduces the manufacturing of large quantities of products from fossil fuels and irreversible derivatives found in nature.
As the use of renewable materials keeps growing, a steady increase in the research and development of such building materials, along with their byproducts and potential wastages, has been noted globally.
Why Are Rapidly Renewable Materials Important?
Opting for rapidly renewable construction materials is a smart way to reduce environmental impact. In addition to reduced costs, they provide the same performance as conventional materials, if not better.
Apart from that, there are a few more reasons why these materials are important like they:
- Curtail energy emissions:
- Since renewable materials need less fuel for production, they emit fewer greenhouse gases.
- Reduce wastage
- Because these materials are made out of recycled elements, they neither leave a lot of wastage behind nor demand hefty replacements.
- Are easy to maintain
- These materials are generally low maintenance because they last longer and require less energy to keep them in good condition.
- Are energy-efficient
- As they have comparatively lower thermal mass, they consume less power and provide better insulation.
- Are free of toxins
- The toxin-free nature of materials allows them to be safer for building inhabitants by enhancing the air quality.
10 Rapidly Renewable Materials Used in Construction
Having known the importance of renewable materials, it becomes a necessity to learn about the materials up close. Listed below are 10 such rapidly renewable materials.
With an impressive rate of self-generation, this perennial grass is one of the best rapidly renewable materials. Bamboo has a terrific comprehensive strength that is greater than brick or concrete.
Its high strength-to-weight ratio and durability make bamboo a perfect choice for cabinetry, flooring, and fortification.
Although cork cultivation takes much longer than bamboo, it can be harvested on a long-term basis from a growing tree. Being a tree bark, cork is incredibly flexible, impermeable, and resistant to heat, moisture, shocks, wear, and tears. Its resilience and ability to regress to its original shape after sustaining immense pressure make it one of the top-ranking rapidly renewable materials used in construction. As a result, cork is used as flooring tiles, insulation sheets, cubicles, and thermal insulators.
3. Agri-Fibers as rapidly renewable materials
Agri-fibers are the leftover by-products of crops, such as sugarcane bagasse, cereal straws, sunflower husk, nutshells, and more. Although agri-fibers are available in abundance and inexpensive, they become quite sturdy once they get processed with resin, clay, or concrete. Agri-fiber laminate boards exhibit similar characteristics to wooden boards and other rapidly renewable materials. Their lightweight property, durability, and minimal environmental impact make them a good cabinetry and framing material.
While it sounds futuristic, mycelium is a unicellular organism that is made of the root structure of mushrooms and fungi growing around a natural composite. Mycelium can be used as a sturdy (yet lightweight) construction material after combining it with sawdust/agri-fibers. It can also endure extreme temperatures, making it an ideal home insulation alternative.
5. Straw Bales
Earlier straw bales were used as a filler in framework construction as they don’t allow air to pass through. But with time, they exhibited good insulation, soundproofing, and fire-resistant properties. It’s now counted as one of the top rapidly renewable materials that can be used in attics, ceilings, and walls, to keep the house cool in the summer and warm during winter.
Organic wool is considered more sustainable than its artificial counterparts as it requires very little effort in manufacturing and doesn’t deteriorate so easily. Apart from providing insulation, it acts as an active air filter, fire-resistant material, moisture controller, and sound absorber.
7. Rammed Earth
This is an ideal solution for constructing foundations, walls, and floors with natural elements like earth, chalk, lime, and gravel. Although it gives a concrete-like impression, rammed earth buildings can act as thermal storage by regulating the room temperature as per the temperature outside.
8. Reclaimed Wood
Reclaiming wood is one of the most environment-friendly ways of creating rapidly renewable materials.
It not only saves trees but also reduces the amount of wastage in barns, landfills, and salvage yards. Just like agri-fibers, reclaimed wood is used in cabinetry, flooring, and structural framing.
Hempcrete is made out of the woody inner hemp plant fibers and lime to create sturdy concrete-like material. This lightweight material is fire-resistant, CO2 absorbent, and has good thermal and sound insulation properties.
Timbercrete is a brick or paver-shaped composition of sawdust and concrete. Like hempcrete, it is lightweight and emits fewer emissions than typical concrete.
Going green is not only a choice but a responsible dedication to conserving nature while prohibiting the depletion of resources.
It’s true that the renewable materials mentioned above can help us build a home that is aesthetically pleasing, durable, sustainable, and has a high resale price. But what’s left is to unleash our individual creativity to figure out the utmost potential of these materials, or develop something new altogether.
After all, it is our responsibility to opt for rapidly renewable materials and embark on a collective mission toward a sustainable future.
By Sreyoshi Dhali
While finding her solace in silence and everything mundane, Shreyosi prefers to untangle the chaos inside her head and makes an effort to paint scenarios with words that keep her awake at night.