Green Alternatives to Standard Building Materials

Stacks of plastic bottles waiting to be recycled.

In today’s world, construction projects are ongoing. Whether it’s building a new home, adding a room to an existing house, designing a workshop, or working on a remodeling project, using green alternatives instead of standard materials is a valid option for anyone who is concerned about negatively impacting the environment.

If you have an upcoming construction or renovation project, consider one of these green materials rather than something more harmful, such as concrete, that produces dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. Durability, a long lifespan, low maintenance, strength, aesthetic appeal, and affordability are a few of the benefits provided by these environmentally friendly materials.

Recycled Plastic

Plastic is a strong, durable material and at the top of the list as an energy-efficient material throughout its lifespan, which ranges from 30 to 50 years.


A close-up image of bamboo stalks.

Bamboo has several benefits that have put it in a good light as an eco-friendly material. Besides being an easily grown material that is also easily harvested, it is a renewable material, lightweight, strong, absorbs carbon dioxide, and produces oxygen. Along with those benefits, the material is also cost-effective, which is an important factor for any type of construction project.


This is another very lightweight material that happens to be created from hemp plant fibers. Lime is used to bind the fibers, which are then molded into shapes and used for construction. It's a renewable resource.


A shopping cart of lumber in a home improvement store.

Wood is a traditional material used throughout history because of its durability and longevity. It's considered an environmentally friendly material because the manufacturing process imposes less of a strain on energy resources, unlike materials such as cement and steel. For example, during the growth process, trees absorb carbon dioxide. Wood is a renewable resource that can continue to be a viable eco-friendly building material for future generations.


An all-natural material, mycelium is lightweight yet strong, and can be formed into various shapes and sizes.

Straw Bale

A close-up image of straw bales.

While straw bale may seem an unlikely candidate for construction, it's becoming a mainstream material. Along with being affordable, it's considered a low impact material on the environment. Keep in mind that while straw bales in their natural state maintain a high level of efficiency in providing insulation, they are not a recommended choice for areas that experience excessive rainfall and high humidity.


A blending of concrete and waste from multiple sources of timber and sawdust create this eco-friendly material. Its benefits include that it's lightweight, durable, strong, and offers excellent insulation. Timbercrete is also user-friendly; it's easy to work with and manipulate into different shapes such as bricks and blocks.


Dust and concrete in a construction yard.

Relatively new, Ferrock blends recycled materials and steel dust. During the drying and hardening stage of the process, the material absorbs carbon dioxide. When the process is complete, the material is like concrete, only much stronger.


This material uses fly ash, which is a byproduct produced by burning coal. It's an eco-friendly alternative to concrete.

Rammed Earth

A fence against a blue sky made of rammed earth.

For aesthetic appeal, noise control, durability, strength, temperature control, minimal maintenance, and fireproofing, rammed earth has become a favorite alternative material. The natural colors, low manufacturing costs, and sustainability have made this an extremely eco-friendly material for homes.


A close-up of a grasscrete driveway.

Grasscrete is a sustainable and eco-friendly green alternative to solid concrete driveways, walkways, and sidewalks. It's a reinforced cellular concrete system with voids, or open patterns, that can be filled with soil and grass or crushed stone. The material reduces the negative impact of a 100 percent concrete-covered area. Grasscrete has an indefinite lifespan, requires low maintenance, and the voids allow excellent water drainage.

The need for both residential and commercial construction will continue to increase as the world population continues to grow. Concern for the health of the environment has increased the need to find alternative materials that do not create a negative impact. Continued research into alternative materials has resulted in more quality green products at affordable prices, which means fewer greenhouse emissions and fewer carbon footprints across the planet.