Reply To: Building materials – which one to pick?

  • Sonia

    March 15, 2023 at 4:32 am

    From RNM Discord

    Mike (Hapori Eco-cohousing) wrote :

    “Building? Brick and concrete is the most common form of construction in Mexico, but has enormous environmental impacts, and due to poor processes (lack of proper curing) is prone to significant maintenance and durability problems.
    It is very hurricane-resistant though, but handles earthquakes poorly.
    Concrete and steel are the leading producers of CO2e emissions in the building sector.


    Heavy weight, requiring good foundations:

    – Earthbag: Rammed earth in long bags, usually done with plastic bags which degrade into microplastics though
    – Adobe/Mud-brick: Good for thermal massing, but labour intensive and not great for insulation

    Lighter weight:

    – Sillar: Non-renewable quarried stone, with low density, high insulation, good durability, and attractive
    – Bottle bricks: Reusing glass bottles instead of recycling, cut with a tile table saw, insulative. Offcuts are recyclable
    – Plastic bricks: Pressed bricks made from plastic waste
    – Bamboo or wood construction: requires good process for long-term durability.
    – Structural insulated panels: usually steel or particle board clad expanded foam insulation. Durable, and can be covered with all manner of finishings for aesthetics
    – Aircrete: concrete made with air bubbles to reduce density, improve insulation. Requires specialist processs and equipment
    – Foam/hemp/whatever-crete: Cement with styrofoam waste, hemp fibre, bamboo fibre, paper waste, whatever in place of sand and/or gravel. Produces a lighter, more flexible, more durable “concrete”, but still has the carbon footprint of the cement used.”

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