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3 Sustainable Building Options

3 Sustainable Building Options

With every new building or home that gets constructed, added on, or remodeled comes the opportunity to create a structure that uses less energy and more sustainable materials. The options for sustainable construction and design are many; here are three techniques to consider.

Straw Bale Building

This type of building construction uses mainly bales of straw and plaster, and it creates thick walls that are about twice as energy efficient as typical stick-framed houses. This is a popular method for families who build their own homes. Learn more at Expert Advice on Straw Bale Building.

Cordwood Construction

A cordwood structure includes a timber frame with thick walls made mainly of chunks of firewood and mortar, and can also include colored glass bottles (you can arrange these in different ways for a personal touch) and sawdust. These walls are also very energy efficient. Learn about a cool structure built with cordwood in Off-the-Grid Cordwood Construction Community Center.

Passive Solar

Passive solar design can be used in conjunction with any type of building method, as it is in large part about the orientation of the building and placement of the windows. The basic concept is to take advantage of the sun to help heat the home in winter and shade to help cool the home in summer. Learn more in Understanding Passive Solar Heating and Cooling.

Does your home take advantage of any sustainable building methods? Are there methods you’ve been meaning to learn about? Share your experiences in the comments section. Saving energy and using better materials starts with learning and helpful conversation.

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Photo by Richard Flatau

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Shelley Stonebrook

Shelley Stonebrook is an Associate Editor at Mother Earth News—North America’s most popular magazine about sustainable, self-reliant living—where she works on exciting projects such as Organic Gardening content and the Vegetable Garden Planner. Shelley is particularly interested in organic gardening, small-scale, local food production, waste reduction, food preservation and cooking. In her spare time, she posts in her personal blog, The Rowdy Radish.

21 comments

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4:15AM PDT on Mar 10, 2013

Thanks

2:45AM PST on Jan 13, 2013

Sustainability isn't just for energy production or food

4:59PM PST on Dec 31, 2012

Thanks.

7:17AM PST on Dec 16, 2012

I like to think my house is a bit "green" because I bought an older home. Nothing had to be torn down or built for me to have a roof over my head. Of course I'm working on a rainwater collection system and some solar power.

6:39AM PST on Dec 14, 2012

Interesting thanks

2:18PM PST on Dec 9, 2012

Thannks.

3:30PM PDT on Aug 23, 2012

Given the increasing numbers of major disasters, primarily due to global warming, sustainable buildings also need to have disaster-resistant features. My favorite option is an earth-sheltered home that is 100 percent self-sufficient to include passive solar, sunlight tubes, solar hot water, composting toilets, greywater recycling, indoor food production, and so on. This type of home is resistant to tornadoes, fires, hurricanes, flooding (if located on a hillside), looting and WMD (weapons of mass destruction) attacks.

4:04AM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

Thanks for the info.

6:34AM PDT on Apr 16, 2012

I love green building!

11:16AM PDT on Apr 15, 2012

I have a straw bale shed and it's amazing. Cool all summer, surprisingly warm in the winter and it has stood against the elements (of southern Ontario) for about 7 years with virtually no damage. Wish my house were made of this, too!

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