This is a question that people should perhaps ask themselves before embarking on a self-build project of their own. While the world at large appreciates that naturally-occurring materials provided by Mother Nature herself (think wood, mud and straw) are the most organic and environmentally sustainable as you’re ever likely to find elsewhere, that doesn’t necessarily mean all other man-made materials should be automatically ruled out.
As more and more people in the western world are struggling to get their foot on the first rung of the cost-spiralling property ladder, another type of ladder is being sought by those individuals, couples and even families looking for alternative, cost-effective and above all else, environmentally sound ways to set up home.
Steel Every Bit as Sustainable as Straw
They’re turning back the clock to times when by and large the only raw materials available to housebuilders were cob (a mixture of clay earth, sand and straw), rammed earth (similar technique to cob, but forces wet material on to a wooden frame at high pressure as means of speeding up construction process), Adobe (adding water to a cob mix to enable brick-moulding held together using a clay mixture), cordwood (firewood stacked and filled with lime or clay-based material to tighten structure) and/or hemp (a blend of hemp, lime and water, also used as an insulating material in roofs).
Steel is 98% Recyclable
All this is very impressive and incredibly resourceful, of course, but also sounds like a great deal of labour intensive work to achieve an environmentally-savvy des res. But what about existing materials which might not have been around for centuries (and can be relatively brutalist in aesthetic and in stark contrast to the aforementioned eco-sensibilities), but do offer energy efficiency? After all, so-called ground-up builds don’t always have to have recruited materials which have physically grown to qualify as eco-friendly, do they?
Metal Buildings Can Compete with Traditional Methods
Steel is one of the materials which challenges this theory that modern is somehow bad and only old is gold, as people begin to learn that this very versatile commodity harbours many advantages of its own. And yes, one of them is offering an efficient means of contemporary living. And not just for domestic arrangements either, as pre-engineered metal building systems manufacturer, Armstrong Steel would concur. This firm creates a range of constructions covering all sectors, including agriculture, commercial, aviation, industrial, recreational and even religious!
1. Recycling and Waste Reduction – Steel is one of the planet’s most reusable materials within the construction sector, and is repurposed for a variety of alternative uses (new studs, joists and other components used in construction of new buildings), being acknowledged as 98% recyclable and therefore more sustainable than wood
2. Energy Efficient – Supports dense layers of insulation which means winter heating bills kept to minimum. On average insulated steel homes reduce energy bills by 30%
3. Can Support Solar Panels – Given rigidity of structure, steel homes can house solar panels with ease. And bear in mind that typical energy returns associated with solar panels stand at around 15-20%.
4. Environmental Resistance – Your home will never be susceptible to mould, decay or insect infestation if constructed from steel as it can’t absorb moisture. Ergo it can’t sustain bacterial growth. Plus its resolute construct protects against snowstorms, earthquakes and floods.
5. Adheres to Green Building Codes – Cold-formed steel meets highest sustainability standards, including the National Green Building Standard for residential buildings and the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design programme.
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