Carbon-Negative and Eco-Friendly Building Materials for Your Next Home Upgrade
By Leslie Rivera of DIY House Tips
In light of the worsening climate emergency, more homeowners are looking for ways to become carbon neutral. Would you like to make your next home upgrade more eco-friendly? One way to achieve your goals is to use carbon-negative and sustainably sourced construction materials.
Carbon-negative materials are those that actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions as they are used. Over the course of their entire life cycle, they will remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they will release. They can help offset the environmental impact of your construction project and help make your home more sustainable. Let’s take a closer look at these seven eco-friendly materials and see how you can get started on your greener home upgrade.
Eco-Friendly Building Materials
Carbon Benefits: 8 tonnes of CO2 are sequestered into the walls and roofs of homes built with grass-based wood sheathing, replacing 17 trees that would be cut down to build a home.
Even though traditional tree-based timber sequesters carbon, living trees have more value to society than dead ones. Forests are powerful and natural carbon capture solutions that lose their ability to capture carbon as trees are cut down.
Plantd, a venture-backed startup in North Carolina, is creating a carbon negative replacement for one of the most common building materials in the United States: Oriented Strand Board. First, Plantd grows a rapidly regenerative species of perennial grass, which can grow up to 20ft tall. This grass is then transformed into a building material in a fully electric and automated production plant. Plantd claims that the final product, a grass-based wood panel, is twice as moisture resistant as tree-based OSB.
Rather than timber and engineered wood products, grass-based wood does not contribute to deforestation. Grass-based wood is a carbon-negative alternative to tree-based wood that aims to restore forests and fight climate change.
Carbon benefits: 1,000 square feet of shiplap stores 1.4 metric tonnes of CO2.
If you’re looking to create a natural interior, painted shiplap is a great option. It’s easy to install and has many applications. Most of the shiplap used in the interiors is made from pine. Look for the manufacturers who source wood from sustainable forests.
Chilean Radiata Pine shiplap is a carbon-negative material, meaning that it helps to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This tree grows best in cool temperate climates and has a fast-growing cycle of roughly 25–30 years.
A mature Radiata Pine can absorb 22 kg of carbon dioxide from the air per year. As long as it comes from a responsible source and a replacement tree is planted for every one that is cut down, the material may be considered carbon negative. Because of this, building with Radiata Pine can help reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.
Carbon benefits: at least 16 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent are sequestered every month during the manufacturing process, making it carbon negative.
Mycelium insulation is one of the latest trends in “green” construction, and for good reason.
This eco-friendly material is made from the roots of mushrooms, and it offers a variety of benefits over traditional insulation materials. For one, mycelium insulation is completely biodegradable, so it won’t end up in a landfill when it’s time to replace it. Additionally, mycelium insulation is extremely effective at regulating temperature, making it an ideal choice for both cold and hot climates. And perhaps best of all, mycelium insulation is naturally fire-resistant, so it can help to protect your home in the event of a fire.
With so many advantages, it’s no wonder that mycelium insulation is rising in popularity.
Carbon benefits: with carbicrete technology, a concrete plant that produces 25,000 CMU’s per day can reduce emissions by 20,000 tonnes per year.
Carbicrete is a company that created groundbreaking technology. It allows concrete block manufacturers to use carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
The company’s mission is to reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry by creating a product that captures and sequesters carbon dioxide. Carbicrete’s concrete blocks don’t have cement in them. Cement is swapped out for steel slag, and the mixture is then mashed up with the rest of the ingredients and cured in chambers with CO2.
The blocks are then used to construct buildings, which sequester the carbon dioxide for the life of the structure. As a result, Carbicrete’s blocks are great at reducing the carbon footprint of the construction industry.
In addition to their environmental benefits, Carbicrete’s concrete blocks are also stronger and more durable than traditional concrete blocks. As a result, they can help to improve the quality of construction projects while also helping to reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry.
Carbon benefits: 1 tonne can absorb 1 tonne of carbon dioxide.
Carbon-negative Olivine sand is the latest way to offset your carbon footprint. Olivine is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in abundance in many parts of the world.
When it is ground into a sand-like consistency, it can be used as a landscaping material. And not only is it environmentally friendly, but it actually helps to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere! The olivine sand absorbs carbon dioxide. As a result, using carbon-negative olivine sand can help to reduce your carbon footprint and make your garden or lawn more eco-friendly.
Conditions permitting, a tonne of olivine sand can absorb as much as one tonne of carbon dioxide. Simply spread it on the landscape, and mother nature will take care of the rest.
Carpet Tiles Made from Recycled Plastic
Carbon benefits: the net reduction in carbon emissions is three hundred grams per square meter.
Made from post-consumer plastics, these tiles have a lower carbon footprint than traditional carpeting options. Some manufacturers produce truly “cradle-to-grave” carbon-negative products. And because they’re made from recycled materials, they help to keep plastic waste out of landfills. In addition, recycled plastic carpet tiles are durable and easy to maintain, making them a smart choice for both homes and businesses. These products absorb more CO2 from the air than they release.
When combined with recycled nylon yarn, the final product has a carbon negative rating. The final result is a product that is good for the environment because it is long-lasting, aesthetically pleasing, and leaves behind less carbon than it took to produce.
So if you’re looking for a way to reduce your carbon footprint, consider choosing carbon-negative recycled plastic carpet tiles.
Regen Cement by Hanson
Carbon benefits: when compared to the use of common cement, the use of Regen in concrete results in a reduction of approximately 850 kg of embodied CO2 (per 1 tonne of Regen).
Hanson, a leading supplier of building materials, has developed a new type of cement that is carbon-negative. The company’s new regen cement is made from recycled industrial waste and captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during the manufacturing process.
It’s more eco-friendly than alternatives to cement like fly ash and helps make concrete last longer.
Hanson’s new cement is already being used in major construction projects around the world, and the company is working to expand production to meet the growing demand for carbon-negative building materials. With the launch of Regen cement, Hanson is leading the way in the fight against climate change.
Carbon benefits: one tree removes up to 22 kg of carbon dioxide per year.
Thanks to its carbon-negative properties, timber is making a comeback as a popular construction material. Unlike concrete and steel, which are made from carbon-intensive fossil fuels, timber is a renewable resource that actually helps to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
When trees are cut down, they release the carbon they have stored over their lifetime, but newly planted trees will eventually absorb that carbon again as they grow. In addition, timber is also an extremely strong and durable material, making it an ideal choice for everything from floors and walls to beams and supports.
With the world increasingly focused on reducing its carbon footprint, it’s no wonder that timber is once again becoming a top choice for builders and developers.
FAQs on Carbon-Negative Construction Materials
What Is a “Cradle-to-grave” Assessment?
A cradle-to-grave assessment is a comprehensive assessment of the environmental impact of a product or process, from the extraction of raw materials through to the end of its life. The goal of a cradle-to-grave assessment is to find ways to make a product or process less harmful to the environment at every stage of its life cycle.
How Is Negative Embodied Carbon Even Possible?
Because some materials extract carbon from the air through photosynthesis or by directly capturing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, they are considered to be “atmospheric carbon removers.” Materials are considered to have a net negative embodied carbon footprint if the amount of carbon that is emitted during the handling, transporting, and processing of the materials is less than the amount of carbon they have extracted from the atmosphere.
What Are the Downsides of Carbon-negative Construction Materials?
One potential downside is that carbon-negative construction materials can sometimes be more expensive than traditional materials. However, as more and more people look for ways to combat climate change, it is likely that the price of these eco-friendly materials will come down. In addition, many see the use of carbon-negative construction materials as an investment in the future of our planet.
We are currently living in a carbon-positive world, which means that the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere is greater than the amount being absorbed. The safe levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were left behind in 1987 when levels were at 350 parts per million (ppm). Today, levels have reached over 400 ppm and they continue to rise at an alarming rate. If we don’t take action to reduce our carbon emissions, we will surpass 450 ppm by 2030.
To reverse the emergency, every household should make an effort to transition to carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative materials.
The next time you’re in the market for a home upgrade, consider some of these eco-friendly materials mentioned above. From plant-based insulation to recycled plastic carpet tiles, there are plenty of options that will help reduce your environmental impact. Plus, many of these products are just as beautiful and durable as their traditional counterparts! So go ahead and give your home an eco-friendly makeover.