Do You Know About These 8 Biodegradable Construction Materials?

Do You Know About These 8 Biodegradable Construction Materials?

As a way to prevent unnecessary construction waste, architects have become more environmentally conscious and are choosing materials that are renewable and/or biodegradable. In this article we take a look at the 8 most common biodegradable materials that are forming a more sustainable future for the construction industry.   

1. Bamboo

While the use of bamboo as a construction material is not new, it is still a relatively unpopular material choice for mass construction in North America. This comes as fairly surprising since the material can be shaped and altered to fit building requirements, and according to Alt Energy, some bamboo species have the same strength ratio of steel and are almost twice the compression rate of concrete. 

Additionally, bamboo is recognized as an environmentally sustainable product and is believed to be one of the least hazardous building materials because of its ability to be disposed of in an eco-friendly manner.

image © amaZulu

image © amaZulu

2. Bioplastics (Soybean)

As the trend towards green architecture advances, the interest in bioplastic has become noticeable. Bioplastics are plastics man-made from renewable biomass sources. Soybean and lignin are two common materials used to produce bioplastics for the AEC industry. It's important to note that when considering bioplastics, you must do your research first since not all bioplastics are biodegradable. 

3. Cork

Cork is one of the more commonly known and used eco-friendly materials. It not only benefits the environment by being harvested in a renewable fashion, but also acts benefits the tenants of the building by being an excellent fire retardant, acoustic insulator and waterproof.

image © American Cork Products 

image © American Cork Products 

4. Desert Sand


When talking about sand in the construction industry, many think of the fine white sand that is used for buildings. While this sand continues to be used, the depletion of it has gradually made it a cause for concern with sustainability. It is also why individuals turned to desert sand for a construction alternative since it can be collected and reused for multiple life-cycles.

5. Linoleum

While Linoleum flooring is biodegradable,  it is often confused with vinyl which contains a synthetic mix of chlorinated petrochemicals. So when specifying linoleum, it's important that you choose the correct type made from natural materials such as linseed oil, natural resin, ground cork dust, wood flour and powdered limestone.


6. Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) That Uses Potato Starch


The use of medium density fibreboard is very popular for museum exhibits, store displays, art gallery displays, furniture, and more. Due to the temporal use of the material, a large portion of it ends up in either the landfill or an incinerator when it's no longer needed.

As a way to alleviate the wastefulness of the material, multiple studies have been conducted to make the material more environmentally friendly. The recent study from the University of Leicester found that substituting the formaldehyde with a resin derived from potato starch could result in the material becoming biodegradable. 

7. Mycelium

Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus or fungus-like bacterial colony and consists of hundreds of thread like fibres called hyphae. When the fibres are dried they become incredibly strong. Although mycelium is currently limited to temporary installations, it has proven to be a material with great promise for widespread use in the future. 


8. Timber

image © Wheeler Bridge

image © Wheeler Bridge

Timber is known for being sustainable, having a faster assembly, better heat retention compared to other materials and a safer construction site. With these benefits, it's no surprise as to why timber has become the material of choice for many large scale projects recently.

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Friday Feature - May 4th Edition

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