top of page


Building material is material used for construction. Many naturally occurring substances, such as clay, rocks, sand, and wood, even twigs and leaves, have been used to construct buildings. Apart from naturally occurring materials, many man-made products are in use, some more and some less synthetic. The manufacturing of building materials is an established industry in many countries and the use of these materials is typically segmented into specific specialty trades, such as carpentry, insulation, plumbing, and roofing work. They provide the make-up of habitats and structures including homes.


Sustainable Construction Materials


Structural insulated panels

A structural insulated panel (SIP) consists of a piece of foam that’s placed between layers of plywood, strand board and cement. Floors, walls and ceilings can be constructed using these durable engineered panels, instead of conventional framing lumber and insulation. The benefits for architects, designers, builders, residents and property owners?

  • SIPs are stronger than traditional wood framing types

  • Less waste from the prefabricated approach

  • The general consensus is they conserve around 50 per cent more energy, resulting in lower bills for property owners or residents

  • They can be combined with other building materials, lending more creative freedom and versatility to design

  • Higher upfront cost but shorter construction times and lower labor costs than traditional framing

  • Builders don’t require specialized tools to install SIPs

  • A high level of airtightness in buildings, which means reduced drafts and less heat transfer

  • Strong soundproofing qualities

Recycled metal

Builders rely heavily on metals such as aluminum and steel, which are durable, lightweight and versatile. But there’s a challenge: A lot of energy goes into mining and manufacturing the metal, which takes its toll on the environment. Keep in mind, ore is a finite resource that already shows signs of being in short supply. Recycling provides a feasible alternative, by lowering the energy used in the overall manufacturing process. And the best part? Metals keep their properties, even after being recycled multiple times – that’s an infinite number for aluminum and steel! This means that 75 per cent less energy is used every time that steel, for example, is repurposed.

Reclaimed wood

Recycled wood that’s been properly treated is useful for building walls, cabinetry, decks, floors, beams, panels and other structures. It’s usually sourced from old-growth trees, which makes it sturdier than virgin wood that comes from first-generation forests. As with recycled metal, reclaiming wood significantly reduces the amount of energy that’s used to make it. It also stores carbon and lowers the demand for fresh timber from forests. And of course, there’s a certain aesthetic charm that appeals to architects who desire a rustic and ecological design that only occurs when wood ages over time. However, wood is vulnerable to being degraded by pests and insects, so it’s important to carefully inspect every restored piece.

Precast concrete slabs

Concrete slabs arrive at the construction site fully formed, having been mixed and set into blocks by the manufacturers. A lightweight filler, such as foam insulation, is usually sandwiched between the outer layers. Prefabrication occurs in a controlled environment, so there’s less chance of cracks and structural faults forming in the concrete. Precast concrete slabs are extremely durable, withstanding all kinds of weather conditions. This affordable building material is often used to construct walls and building facades, for this very reason. As far as sustainability goes: Producing and assembling the slabs takes less energy than many conventional concrete types, making this a greener option. The concrete also helps to control heat, which saves money for property owners who don’t need to use the air conditioner as much.


Another natural resource that grows quickly, cork is harvested from bark on a tree that continues to grow. Not only is this recyclable and renewable resource hard-wearing, it’s also lightweight. NASA even uses cork as an insulator, thanks to its excellent thermal properties. More companies are using cork for the external cladding of buildings, as it’s fire retardant, resists abrasion, reduces sound pressure and creates an earthy and natural aesthetic.


Bamboo has a long history as a building material, stretching thousands of years. Lightweight, durable and renewable – it offers the best of many worlds. Fast-growing around the world, there’s no need to replant bamboo after harvest and it self-generates at an impressive rate. As for construction performance: This perennial grass has more compressive strength than brick or concrete, so it’s well-placed to bear heavy loads and withstand harsh conditions over time. It’s commonly used as a sustainable building material for scaffolding, bridges, flooring, structures and cabinetry. Be mindful though: Untreated bamboo attracts insects and swells when exposed to water, so it needs to be treated to prevent this.

bottom of page