The Wonderful and “WOW” Reasons to Embrace Sustainable Building Materials
From the insulation lining your home’s walls to the materials used to design the furniture you sit on, often, the materials involved in the design of products come from non-renewable sources, such as wood and concrete. Unfortunately, over time, this has led to massive deforestation as well as landfills being littered with products that will take thousands of years to biodegrade.
However, to solve the issue, many designers and companies are turning to innovative ideas that incorporate sustainable building materials into our products and homes. If you’re seeking a greener future, check out the wonderful reasons to embrace two cutting-edge sustainable materials: cork and fungi.
The Benefits of Cork as a Wood Alternative
When you picture cork, do you envision a wine bottle or a corkboard in the office? If so, you’re not alone. Many people have only been exposed to cork in extremely limited uses. However, the unique properties of cork make it an excellent alternative to wood in numerous applications.
Some of the benefits of cork as a wood alternative include the following:
Sustainability: Cork is harvested from the bark of cork oak trees. After being harvested, the bark regrows, making this a natural, renewable source. Unlike wood, which requires cutting down trees, cork can be continually harvested from the same trees.
Strength: Cork is an extremely durable material. It is water-, rot-, and pest-resistant, which makes it a great pick for floors and exterior construction.
Insulation: The cell structure of cork makes it a wonderful insulator. It can be used to help reduce energy consumption in homes and offices.
Lightweight: In applications where weight is a concern, cork is a superior choice over wood. It is easy to work with and won’t overwhelm a structure due to weight.
Comfort: The soft, spongy texture of cork makes it wonderful for walking on or sitting on. This makes it a great pick for furniture and flooring.
How Cork Is Used as a Building Material
With the vast array of benefits cork offers, it is being used as a building material in a few ways, such as the following exciting developments.
Insulation: Due to the unique cell structure of cork, it makes an excellent insulator. It can be used as building insulation and helps reduce energy consumption — another win for our planet.
Flooring: With incredible durability and moisture resistance, cork can be used to replace traditional flooring. It is soft, making it comfortable to stand or walk on, and it has superb sound-absorbent properties.
Wall tiles: Cork wall tiles are becoming a popular choice for ad decorative finish on both interior and exterior walls. Cork tiles are simple to install and offer extra insulation and sound absorption.
Furniture: From outdoor chairs to side tables, cork is being used to design furniture that is both sustainable and aesthetically pleasing. Along with furniture, you can find vases, trays, planters, and more, all designed from cork.
Construction: In the construction industry, cork is chosen as a lightweight, durable material. It is used for walls, roofs, and other structural elements.
The Incredible World of Fungi
What if you could grow insulation for your attic in a matter of weeks? What if you could design packaging that is 100% organic? And what if you could do all of that while repurposing agricultural waste?
While it may seem too good to be true, all of those ideas are entirely possible, and the solution is found in the incredible world of fungi.
Today, sustainably focused and innovative companies are turning to mushrooms to design building materials that are 100% natural and renewable.
Why should you consider using mushrooms as a building material? The reasons are numerous:
Sustainability: Mushrooms are a renewable source, grown using organic materials as a medium. In fact, many businesses growing mushroom-building materials are focused on repurposing agricultural materials that would otherwise have gone to waste, such as corn husks or rice hulls. Mushrooms are all-natural and make the perfect alternative to wood or concrete, which are derived from non-renewable sources.
Strength: When you picture sauteeing up a mushroom, strength and durability might not come to mind. However, many types of mushrooms have extremely good tensile strength and, through a drying process, can be used to design durable building materials.
Insulation: Mushrooms offer excellent thermal insulation properties. They are often used to help reduce the energy consumption of homes and offices.
Lightweight: When weight is a concern, mushrooms provide an excellent solution. Building materials derived from mushrooms are easy to handle and extremely lightweight.
Biodegradability: Unlike styrofoam and other synthetic materials, mushroom-based building materials will break down naturally over time. This makes them a greener solution when compared to traditional materials that can take thousands of years to break down.
Overall, using mushrooms for building materials can be a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to previous methods.
How Mushrooms Are Used as a Building Material
With their ability to grow rapidly and to repurpose organic waste, mushrooms are being turned into building materials in numerous creative ways:
Insulation: Mushrooms can be grown into insulation panels. These panels are then dried through a heating process and used as insulation in buildings. These mushroom-based panels are strong, resistant to fire, and durable.
Mushroom bricks: Using models, mushrooms are used to design bricks that are lightweight but strong. The material is dried, cured, and used as a replacement for traditional bricks.
Mushroom-based concrete: Using mushroom mycelium as a binding agent, companies have designed innovative concrete solutions that are biodegradable and sustainable.
Mushroom-based plaster: By mixing mushroom mycelium with other materials, such as clay or straw, a plaster substitute is formed that can be applied to ceilings and walls. This mushroom-based plaster can replace traditional gypsum plaster as a more sustainable option.
Packaging: While this isn’t a building material, it is an extremely exciting application for mushrooms. Through the use of molds, companies are now growing mushroom-based packaging to take the place of styrofoam and plastics.
Join Us in Creating a Sustainable Tomorrow
It’s truly incredible what humans can do when we put our minds to it. New, sustainable building materials are helping create a green future in which we all can do our part to live a carbon-free lifestyle. Join us as we continue to seek out the best in sustainable products by signing up for our Newsletter and following us on Instagram and Facebook for daily inspiration. Together, we can help build a green world one material at a time.
By evee Life Contributor
Published January 11, 2023 4:30PM
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