As the world shifts towards eco conscious practices, architects and builders have been discovering how to build more eco friendly homes. One significant avenue in this pursuit is to use eco friendly building materials. This is an innovative approach that not only reduces environmental impact but also contributes to the creation of functional and aesthetically pleasing structures. 

In this article, we will explore the top 9 eco friendly building materials that are gaining traction in the realm of sustainable construction.


Eco Friendly Building Materials: Stone

Natural stone has been used in construction for centuries, and for good reason. The allure of stone structures goes beyond aesthetics; it encompasses a range of environmental benefits. 

One remarkable aspect of building with stone is its minimal environmental impact. Stone is a resource that occurs naturally, necessitating no excessive energy or chemical inputs for its creation. This inherent quality makes stone an ideal material for eco conscious architecture, as it reduces the need for additional resources for its creation.

Living in a stone structure also offers numerous advantages. The low-maintenance nature of stone eliminates the need for frequent upkeep and cleaning. Moreover, the durability of stone makes it an ideal choice for various climates. Stone provides resistance against fire and natural disasters, enhancing the safety and longevity of the building.

The versatility of stone extends beyond its use in primary construction. Leftover stones from the building process can find new life as countertops or tiles. This minimizes waste and maximizes resource utilization.

Additionally, opting for stone eliminates the release of harmful chemicals into the home, promoting a healthier living environment. The natural beauty of stone also reduces the need for painting and finishing, contributing to a reduced ecological footprint.


Eco Friendly Building Materials: Bamboo

Bamboo is a fast growing plant. Unlike traditional hardwoods that take decades to mature, bamboo can be harvested in just 3-5 years. This growth rate makes it a rapidly renewable resource that replaces more resource-intensive materials.

Bamboo has been utilized in construction for centuries due to its environmental attributes. Bamboo is often referred to as “nature’s steel” due to its impressive strength. It is able to compete with steel in tensile strength and outperform concrete in compression resistance. This showcases bamboo’s potential as a durable building material.

Additionally, bamboo’s biodegradability, antibacterial properties, and minimal need for chemical processing further bolster its eco friendly credentials.

However, it’s important to note that bamboo homes are often classified as frame constructions by insurers. This leads to higher insurance rates due to concerns about fire resistance. Architects and builders need to consider this factor when opting for bamboo-based designs.


Eco Friendly Building Materials: Cord

Derived from the cork oak tree, cork is one of the highly renewable and eco friendly building materials. Its unique properties make it an excellent candidate for building materials. You can often find this material especially used in applications like ceiling panels, acoustic walls, and flooring.

Cork’s ability to withstand moisture and liquids also makes it a promising choice for home construction. Its cellular structure has the ability to absorb vibrations, which reduces noise and contributes to building comfort and sustainability.

Besides, cork also excels as a thermal insulator too. With about 50 percent of its cell volume consisting of air, cork is incredibly lightweight while offering substantial thermal resistance. This attribute makes it an ideal material for maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures. As a result, homeowners can then reduce energy consumption, thereby lowering energy bills.

Beyond its architectural contributions, cork harvesting plays a role in addressing global warming. By removing the bark without harming the tree, carbon dioxide absorption remains unhampered. This contributes a lot to maintaining the delicate ecological balance.


Imagine a charming cottage nestled among trees, exuding warmth and tranquility. Cordwood construction offers exactly that – a cozy abode that combines natural beauty and energy efficiency.

One of the big pluses of cordwood construction is its affordability. The method gained popularity during the Great Depression due to its cost-effectiveness and straightforward assembly. Many homeowners even opt for DIY projects, eliminating the need for a general contractor. 

However, it’s important to navigate the permitting process diligently to ensure compliance with masonry home requirements. This ensures a smooth path when seeking insurance coverage, as most carriers require adherence to specific building codes.

Beyond its economic benefits, cordwood homes excel in insulation. In this construction style, wood logs, typically 40 to 60 percent of the material used, are meticulously arranged and embedded within a mortar mix. 

The combination of wood and mortar results in exceptional thermal performance, keeping interiors comfortable regardless of external temperatures. This inherent insulation is suitable for a variety of eco friendly house designs, especially passive solar home designs. This makes cordwood structures adaptable to harnessing solar energy for heating and lighting.

Straw Bales

Straw bales have long gained a reputation as one of the most eco friendly materials for building. Harvested from crops like wheat, straw can be regrown and re-harvested with minimal environmental impact.

Straw bales possess impressive insulating properties. Commonly integrated into walls, attics, and ceilings, straw bales contribute to maintaining temperature stability within buildings, reducing the need for excessive heating or cooling. 

Traditionally, farmers would burn off excess straw after harvest, releasing carbon back into the atmosphere. However, repurposing straw into compressed ceiling and wall panels transforms it into a carbon-retentive building resource. That way, homeowners can mitigate carbon emissions and environmental degradation.

The sustainability advantages of straw don’t stop there. Compressed straw panels are not only 100% recyclable but also 100% biodegradable, aligning with the principles of a circular economy. At the end of their life cycle, they can be transformed into garden compost or recycled back into new panels. This showcases a closed-loop approach that minimizes waste and resource consumption.

Interestingly, straw bale homes are typically finished with plaster, which might enhance their fire resistance. This amalgamation of natural materials not only promotes sustainability but also elevates safety standards.

Reclaimed, Recycled or Sustainable Wood

Wood has always been a staple in the world of construction due to its versatility and natural charm. However, traditional timber harvesting can contribute to deforestation and habitat destruction. Enter reclaimed, recycled, or sustainable wood, a game-changer for eco conscious architecture.

Reclaimed and recycled wood repurposes previously used timber, reducing the demand for freshly harvested wood. This significantly lowers the environmental impact and decreases the carbon footprint associated with construction.

Moreover, sourcing wood from sustainably managed forests ensures the long-term viability of this resource. Whether it’s repurposed for exposed beams or utilized for natural-looking floors, the use of reclaimed, recycled, or sustainable wood aligns seamlessly with eco friendly architectural principles. You can easily find a wide selection of reclaimed, recycled, or sustainable wood online from places like Etsy, Home Depot, or eBay.

Recycled Rubber

When it comes to eco conscious architecture, one material that is making waves is recycled rubber. There are two main types of rubber: natural and synthetic. Natural rubber is derived from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), while synthetic rubber is produced from petroleum through a chemical process. In the context of environmental impact, natural rubber takes the lead as the more eco friendly option.

Rubber can be recycled for various architectural needs. You can find recycled rubber in diverse architectural contexts, from sidewalks to playground surfacing and outdoor floor tiles. The soft texture of rubber is particularly appealing, offering a comfortable and pleasant feel underfoot. This makes rubber an ideal choice for surfaces where people walk or stand for extended periods.

Moreover, its natural resilience and tear resistance contribute to its longevity. Any structure built with recycled rubber can withstand the test of time and use.

Recycled Steel

Recycled steel stands as a shining example of circular economy principles in action. Unlike some materials that degrade with each recycling cycle, steel retains its properties even after being recycled multiple times. It’s estimated that more steel is recycled annually than the combined recycling of plastic, paper, aluminum, and glass.

The construction industry has embraced this recycled material due to its strength and durability. When a building is demolished, 98 percent of the structural steel is recycled rather than being discarded in landfills. This process not only minimizes waste but also significantly reduces the environmental impact of construction and demolition.

Another striking benefit of using recycled steel in construction lies in its energy-saving capabilities. The production of steel from raw materials demands an enormous amount of energy, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. By utilizing recycled steel, this energy consumption is significantly curtailed, leading to a noteworthy reduction in the carbon footprint of construction projects.

Apart from its environmental benefits, the use of recycled steel can also facilitate smoother administrative processes. Obtaining building permits and home insurance becomes less complicated, as steel-framed homes tend to be cheaper to insure compared to those with wood frames. This cost-effectiveness aligns with the broader sustainability goal of minimizing the carbon footprint of construction projects.

Recycled Plastic

The omnipresence of plastic in our modern lives has given rise to a massive pollution problem. Plastic items can take up to a staggering 1000 years to decompose in landfills, contributing to pollution in our oceans, parks, and homes. However, a glimmer of hope lies in the concept of recycling plastic to create durable, versatile, and eco friendly building materials for houses.

Companies have adopted carbon-neutral and non-toxic manufacturing processes to repurpose recycled plastic into construction materials. These sustainable materials exhibit a 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional concrete blocks. This innovative approach not only prevents plastic from entering landfills and oceans but also provides an eco friendly alternative to resource-intensive materials like concrete.

Recycled plastic-based building materials are also characterized by their durability and robustness. These attributes make it an excellent candidate for various construction applications, including structural elements and insulation panels. Furthermore, recycled plastic exhibits superior sound-retaining properties, contributing to noise reduction in built environments. By creating a closed-loop system that repurposes existing plastic waste, the construction industry can significantly mitigate waste production over the long term.

Summing Up

The convergence of sustainability and architecture is transforming the way we perceive and construct our built environments. The 9 eco friendly building materials above represent just a fraction of the innovative alternatives available to architects and builders. By prioritizing these materials, we can create structures that not only stand the test of time but also contribute positively to the environment. As consumer awareness about sustainability grows, demand for such construction materials will increase. This will be a big step towards fostering a cycle of innovation and responsible, sustainable building practices.


Oliver started on everything home and art-related, from interior to gardening, as he has a great passion for art. Growing up in a home where nature was cherished, Oliver always felt strongly connected to trees and the environment. While he doesn’t hold a degree in environmental science or forestry, his self-directed learning and exploration have shaped his viewpoints. Oliver found a way to channel his love of art to the environment through contributions to the Tenereteam blog. In his free time, he often finds himself capturing the beauty of nature through photography or staying updated on the latest climate research.

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