At TerraMai, we think most people want to be eco-minded and believe that using green building materials on a project is the responsible thing to do. But, a sense of environmental goodwill isn’t the only benefit of using these sorts of materials. They can lend a unique aesthetic appeal to any space, and when combined, the results can be truly remarkable. Of course, our bias is toward reclaimed wood but, we tip our hat to all methods of recycling and reclaiming materials for the built environment. Here are a few. I can’t help but start with reclaimed wood…
Wood Gives Timeless Style to Any Environment
Naturally, wood is a mainstay that can function well in almost any kind of space. Reclaimed wood is a staple of green building materials, and its various colors and patterns can be subtle or mesmerizing. Few other materials offer such a wide range of aesthetic uses. The character of reclaimed wood is fascinating, as it’s typically salvaged from old buildings and vintage structures and retains the aging and patina it gained during its past.
From TerraMai: Hulu’s NYC office combines rustic and contemporary design
Reclaimed wood can be used in just about any construction or design context. This versatility makes reclaimed wood a favorite among architects and designers who desire organic warmth. Even reclaimed wood pallets can provide an industrial-chic look.
From Box Interior Design: This wall composed of repurposed wood pallets complements this restaurant’s open design
Recycled Tile Gives New Life to Old Waste
Recycled building materials have surged in popularity, and they’re making their way into commercial projects. Recycled tile is one such material. It’s a low-emitting material that releases low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment.
From Fireclay Tile: This restaurant’s recycled tile adds a healthy amount of visual interest
There are a number of clever methods to recycle tile. One, as you might guess, is carefully removing old tile and reusing it, but styles change, and old-world vintage tiles, when you can find them, tend to be in low quantities. Some projects are closed loop, meaning existing porcelain is removed and repurposed into new tile then installed back into the original renovation project. Other companies use waste materials like post-industrial and post-consumer glass in their processes. Tile, when fired at high temperatures, is a zero-emitting material. This means it can help lower overall concentration of VOCs in a space while simultaneously providing a great design element.
Bamboo: A Naturally Renewable Material
Bamboo has a particularly clean aesthetic, and can look right at home in a variety of environments. It’s also inherently flexible when it comes to usage; it can be used to create accents, but it can also provide a focal point. Bamboo lends itself to biophilic design, and it looks organic yet contemporary. While it’s popular for flooring, bamboo can also be used to create a striking external appearance.
From Asia Green Buildings: Bamboo helps to create an open outdoor space
However, it’s important to note that for bamboo to be truly green, it must come from a source approved by the Forest Stewardship Council. Bamboo is naturally renewable, so it provides a good choice for construction.
Rammed Earth Takes “Green” to New Heights
What’s greener than using the earth itself? That’s the idea behind rammed earth, a technique in which elements like sand and clay are compacted between flat panels. This produces a very sturdy and completely natural result that is most often used for walls. If this technique seems rather primitive, that’s because it is; ancient buildings all over the world were created using rammed earth methods.
From Dezeen: The Craigieburn Library in Melbourne appeals to biophilic design with rammed earth walls
Since the appearance of rammed earth walls is determined by its constituents, there’s limitless possibilities for aesthetics.
From NAREBA: This house displays the textural richness of rammed earth
Green building materials don’t need to look clunky or awkward. Rather, they can bring a sense of nature into any contemporary space and make it stunning.