What are the Different Green Building Products?

Malcolm Tatum

As more people become interested in creating structures that are non-toxic and environmentally friendly, the inclusion of green building products in the construction of homes, offices, and plant facilities has become more common. There are actually a number of different resources that can go into the creation of sustainable architecture and help reduce the damage done to the planet’s ecosystem. Here are some examples of green building products and how they are often used.

Old and recycled tires can be used for the insulation or decorative elements in green buildings.
Old and recycled tires can be used for the insulation or decorative elements in green buildings.

Recycled materials are one of the keystones of sustainable building. Because there is little or no additional material required to make these already created materials viable in constructing homes or other buildings, there is no additional drain on the earth’s resources. Green building products such as old tires can be used in the creation of insulation, decorative elements such as baseboards or pipe systems within the home.

Incorporating solar panels into a building's design could be considered a green building technique.
Incorporating solar panels into a building's design could be considered a green building technique.

Renewable resources are also important to the green builder. In particular, renewable resources that are intentionally sustainable, such as harvested wood that is routinely replaced with new plants as each harvest is made. This type of sustainable management helps to ensure that future generations will also have resources to use in the creation of environmental building projects. Typically, the harvested wood is certified as sustainable by a third party organization.

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Rescued materials from local buildings is also an excellent source of green building materials. These offer the advantages of not involving additional manufacturing and not having to be transported from distant places, thus cutting back on the amount of fossil fuels consumed during the building project. Rescued or reclaimed timbers, bricks, and other elements also help to keep construction costs down, since these materials are often available for far less than newly manufactured materials. The cost factor alone often makes this type of green building products attractive to people who are not particularly concerned with the state of the environment.

Natural materials that can be used for building are often environmentally friendly and can provide the basis for a comfortable home or office building. Straw is an example of a natural resource that can be used for this purpose. Straw bales made from materials left after the harvest time can be used to create interior and exterior walls for a home, essentially using a resource that is usually allowed to rot or is ground into fodder for animals.

Whether reclaimed, recycled, or materials that would normally go to waste, the use of these green building products helps the environment in several ways. First, they help to prevent many materials from ending up in landfills and garbage dumps. Second, they reduce the need to utilized limited resources to create new structures. Last, they make it possible to ensure that future generations can enjoy a quality of life that is at least as comfortable as that enjoyed by people living today.

Discussion Comments


I used to live in Vermont and I have seen some beautiful homes that use reclaimed wood and recycled concrete. In fact the restaurant I used to work in was a remodeled farmhouse form the early 1800's. When the remodeling was done many of the beams were replaced with reclaimed wooden beams from an old barn. We also used a soy based coating in the floor in the basement of the restaurant. Soy based stains are a great environmentally friendly way to seal your concrete floors, and they can really add to the aesthetics of the building. Soy based stains are also VOC free which the restaurant owner felt was important in an enclosed kitchen prep area. We also used industrial fans for air circulation rather than air conditioning. The look of reclaimed wood and brick with the stainless steel fan blades gave the building a very rustic look with a hint of art deco.


Sometimes it is the products that you don't use that make a green building green. Using paints and stains that are free from volatile organic compounds (VOC) can be friendly to both the environment and your family's health. VOCs can create low level ozone when they mix with nitrogen gas, causing global warming. VOCs from solvents and paints can also cause serious allergies, asthma, and immune system problems in developing children. It is becoming increasingly popular for paint companies to switch to aqueous based paints rather than those made with solvents. Considering the billions of gallons of paint used every year, moving away from VOC free paints could have a positive effect on the environment.

Not using things like traditional air conditioning and heating units can have an effect on how green a home is. It is common for green homes to use air columns, passive solar, and the properties of heat convection to heat and cool a home. Geothermal heat pumps are also viable options in almost any region. In regions where the weather is cold for much of the year, using super efficient wood pellet or wood gasification stoves can be a green way to heat your home. There are many technologies, systems, and materials available; it is just up to the homeowner and builder to find out which will work best.

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