11 Little-Known Green Alternatives to Concrete

What have you found out there for a building material that is more solid and long-lasting than concrete? It’s what holds together and constructs pretty much everything around you. Sidewalks, apartment buildings, bridges, roads, viaducts, and all other modern urban life necessities are built with the man-made compound.

The problem is, there are vast amounts of C02 emissions that are sent into the air every year during the production of the commercial concrete that contributes to the climate change issues that we’re dealing with. Thankfully, there have been other building materials discovered that have less of an impact on the environment but can still withstand the pressure of doing the job of concrete. Take a look at these 11 “green” solutions.

1.    Grasscrete

One way that the amount of concrete being used is reduced happens when the concrete gets poured in such a way that grass and other foliage can grow up in between the patterns. It’s been done successfully in driveways, sidewalks, concrete flooring, and walkways. Along with the reduction of concrete use, there is the benefit of improved water drainage and absorption.

2.    HempCrete

The woody inner fibers of the hemp plant can be used to bind and create concrete-like shapes that are both sturdy and light. It’s a fast-growing renewable resource that doesn’t cost as much to transport because of its weight.

3.    AshCrete

Instead of traditional concrete, ashcrete uses fly ash. It’s a by-product of burning coal. It’s estimated that 97% of the standard materials used in concrete can be swapped out for recycled components.

4.    Timbercrete

Sawdust and concrete mixed together creates timbercrete. The transportation emissions generated to move it are lower because it’s a lighter product. The sawdust is a waste product that gets reused. The energy-intensive components of the standard concrete are eliminated. Bricks, pavers, and blocks can all be formed with timbercrete.

5.    Ferrock

Dust that is created through work in the steel industry is a material that can be used to create something that’s even stronger than concrete called ferrock. During the hardening and drying process, the carbon dioxide gets absorbed into the ferrock making it carbon neutral.

6.    Rammed Earth

Walls have been made by forming and tamping Earth for thousands of years. They can last a long time and be made more sustainable by utilizing bamboo or rebar as a foundation to build around.

7.    Straw Bales

Homes and other structures have been built out of local, natural materials since the beginning of time. The walls inside of the frame that would otherwise be wood, gypsum, concrete, plaster, fiberglass or stone can be built with straw bales. As long as they have been sealed properly, they provide insulation from cold and hot weather. It’s a renewable resource that’s both affordable and sustainable.

8.    Recycled Plastic

Ground up recycled plastic and trash can be added into concrete to reduce that amount of garbage clogging up landfills. It’s also a way to prevent extracting, mining, and milling of new materials.

9.    Bamboo

Bamboo has been used as a building material in other cultures for many years. It’s lightweight, fast growing, and sturdy. It’s ideal for post-disaster rebuilding, construction in low-income areas where it grows naturally, and excellent for hard to access areas.

10.    Mycelium

Mushrooms and fungi are what makeup mycelium. It’s a building material of the future that is grown around molds, straw, and other natural materials. After it’s dried, it can be used to make bricks and other strong yet lightweight shapes.

11.    Wood

Wood is the most traditional yet one of the most eco-friendly building materials that there is. The forests can create biodiverse habitats and absorb unwanted C02 while growing.

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