There are alternatives: Organic building materials
The construction industry today uses man-made materials like concrete, steel, brick, aluminum and fibreglass in nearly 95% of all new buildings.
Organic materials such as wood, straw, bamboo, cellulose insulation, natural paints and oils or waxes could be used instead to create low energy buildings that are solid, safe and better for the environment.
The amount of energy used and pollution created from man-made construction materials is astounding. The number and amount of harmful chemicals used is growing all the time, leading to many people becoming allergic or getting sick around new carpets and a wide variety of other materials.
Organic materials on the other hand are grown from seeds and absorb carbon dioxide while they grow. After harvesting, they sequester this greenhouse gas and do not release it into the atmosphere.
The construction of new buildings accounts for 48% of the total energy used in the U.K. (based on a 1992 study) and 46% of the country's carbon dioxide emissions.
The use of organic materials in building construction needs to be increased from its current 5% usage level. Building designers need to be aware of the colossal amount of fossil fuel energy that is used in man-made materials.
Organic building materials can breath, absorbing and giving off moisture for a healthy indoor environment.
Just like we now associate organic foods with healthier eating, organic construction materials lead to a healthier building. With an emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability, organic buildings can lead the way.
An organic building sustainability index has been created in order to help designers and builders choose more appropriate materials. The index charts the number of years before the total CO2 emissions of the building equals the CO2 stored in the building's structure.
Keep in mind that the total emissions of a building include those from heating, cooling and ventilating the building as well as the energy used to create the building materials themselves. With a little ingenuity and planning it is possible to create buildings with a very high sustainability index (like 300 years) so long as there is enough organic building material available and the building is designed for a long life span.
Using the sustainability index it is possible to achieve a great range of choices in building styles.
For detailed information, please visit Organic Building.