Alternative Building Materials and Methods

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Alternative Building Materials and Methods

The buildup of past construction techniques up to our present point in time has denoted wood as being the first and foremost material used to build houses in the United States. Building codes prescribe wood to build homes, because of both its structural benefits and because it is ingrained in the industry as the material of choice. Because wood has been used for so long, it is the material that builders know best and are the most comfortable with. However, the world’s forests are rapidly disappearing, as wood is used inefficiently and excessively in building – both the quantity of houses and the amount of wood used within a single house helps to quickly deplete our natural wood supply.

Because of this, alternatives to wood building are being sought out by environmental organizations, with the aims of increasing awareness of the state of our forests and providing information and access to wood alternatives in building and upkeep of houses and other structures. Though it may be a slow process to change building codes and norms, there are other alternatives available.

There are two main ways to decrease wood consumption: alternative building materials and alternative building methods. Alternative building materials include concrete, flyash, cob, earth, and straw/bale. All of these materials have been used in both the United States and in different countries to build houses, and have proven to be viable replacements for wood in construction. However, efforts to mostly or entirely supplant the use of wood with these wood substitutes have not yet been successful. Alternative methods for building range from sustainable practices in acquiring materials to the developmen...

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...y, there are many barriers to this change that will be very difficult to overcome. As a global environmental issue, however, it is important to strive for the widespread use of alternative options. I believe that if the use of alternatives becomes economically viable, ad campaigns are instituted to promote their use, and government subsidies are allotted differently, then alternative materials and methods will definitely start to be used, to the benefit of the environment and world in general.

Works Cited

Daly, Ned. Demanding change in the wood and paper markets. Multinational Monitor, v19 n4 p13(4), April 1998.

Fowler, Stacey. Building the future: Sustainable building materials come of age. Environmental News Network. September 25, 2001. www.enn.com.

Use of Alternative Building Materials Could Save India 25% Cost. AsiaPulse News, Feb 24, 2003; p7044.

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