Cutting Edge Eco-Home Building Materialsby Stephanie Scott Internet Marketer
The green movement is only growing smarter with time and more important as our impact upon climate and resources deepen. Material designers haven’t been ignoring this trend and several new products are hitting the market to fuel the growing demand for eco-home building materials.
One of the most hidden elements of our homes can also end up
being one of the most damaging to our health and the environment. One need look
no further than the disaster in Flint, Michigan last year to understand the
health hazards of corroding metal pipes inside and out of our homes that have
long led the construction industry to adopt plastic piping as standard for most
homes in place of iron. Ironically this piping often creates new problems by
adding to the environmental damage caused by non-degradable plastics.
But a new solution is hitting the markets for the building
and plumbing trade. Polyethylene flexible plastic comes with no added chemicals
and is 100% recyclable even after it has run out its 100-year warranty. An
added benefit of the material is its flexibility that allows it to bend and
loop through difficult spaces while maintaining its thickness and strength.
Carpets and upholstery have a strong impact on the
environment, far from the homes they are installed at and the manufacturer
where they are produced, where dyes and other toxic contaminants run into
rivers and soils nearby. New sustainable fabrics are pointing the way toward
more responsible choices for homes that are just as strong and colorful.
Sustainable fabrics are typically dyed with non-toxic
solutions, and made anywhere up to 80% of recycled material. They often push
fiber performance and tech as well. Although a lot of recycled material, such
as cotton, may go into the fabric, so do strands of polyester and nylon to
offer ever greater resistance to abrasion, stains, and water damage that lead
to long product lifespans that maintain visual quality.
Solar technology is becoming cheaper and more viable every
year, but few developments have been as exciting as Tesla’s newest plunge into solar
energy with its energy creating shingles. Elon Musk unveiled four shingle
designs at an event last fall that resemble more standard shingles, Tuscan
ceramic, and French slate. All, in fact, are made of manufactured glass with
built in solar cells.
The glass tiles change in visual opaqueness with the angle
they are viewed. Perpendicular to the sun, they appear transparent and the
solar cells within are completely visible. Viewed from the street however, a
visual illusion makes them appear just like the traditional shingles they
replicate. Musk even went as far to say that his solar roof model would be
cheaper than standard roofing. Until it hits the market in full production,
plenty of larger photovoltaic panels continue to provide alternative energy means
Thermally Treated Wood
Wood is also becoming a high-performance material thanks to
a new treatment process that is changing the look of many upscale eco-homes.
The secret ingredient is not chemical, it’s heat. Thermally treated wood,
usually ash, is placed in a kiln and essentially has all of its moisture and
resins cooked out at a high temperature. The process leaves the wood decay
resistant and non-toxic.
It actually involves using steam at a temperature greater
than the wood’s combustion level that both evacuates the undesired resins but
prevents the material becoming brittle. The result is lumber devoid of material
for bacteria or mold that is dimensionally stable and moisture resistant.
The material’s extraordinary wear and strength are seeing it sheath homes across the world, either greyed with natural exposure to the sun or warmed with an oil stain. Apart from cladding, thermally modified wood is also being used as attractive and high-performance decking and flooring.
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