October 15, 2019

Eco homes, building and decorating with recycled materials

The construction industry is focusing on a more eco friendly and sustainable approach to building. One where the materials used in home building are capable of being recycled at some future point. As well as incorporating recycled materials within new construction. With dwindling natural resources and increased consumer awareness it’s an attitude that is reflected by demand. A recent study by the UK Building Research Establishment confirms that 50% of all construction and demolition waste (C&D) goes to landfill, 40% on land reclamation and the remainder is recycled. Glass, steel, wood and plastics are all suitable for recycling together with a surprising array of other materials commonly used in construction.

Different approaches to sustainability

Sustainable homes are considered from a life-cycle perspective, from initial construction to cost-in-use and finally end-of-life. From cutting down on energy consumption to saving water, the eco home is all about minimising waste. Sometimes the terms around recycled building materials can be a confusing however. What are recycled materials and what is the difference between up-cycling and recycling? A salvaged window frame with new more efficient double glazing added is an example of up-cycling. While recycled wood flooring selected for its patina of age is an example of decorative recycling. Some structural systems are more appropriate to recycling than others, steel frame for example is the optimum recyclable material. Old bricks are regularly recycled while concrete block construction is probably the least suitable.

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Recycled home décor, materials with a history

Both the fabric of the construction and the décor can incorporate recycled materials.  Home decór ideas featuring recycled materials include up-cycled vintage pieces of furniture, feature walls of salvaged timber, craft pieces, fabrics etc. Adding warmth and character to any interior, especially effective when contrasted with newer elements.

Finite resources and conscientious construction materials

Over recent years the realisation that the resources of the earth are finite has become more accepted generally. There’s even an Earth Overshoot Day celebrated yearly on the day that humanity’s consumption of resources exceeds the capacity to regenerate (which every year arrives earlier). The millennial and generation X are going to be the most affected but equally are the most informed and motivated. Up-cycling and recycling will be a feature in their future habitats but more and more we are seeing commercially available products that do just that.

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Recycled flooring is a popular option in the home and PAR-KER Forest is a beautiful example. Here 95% of the ceramic that goes into producing the timber look design is sourced from the leftovers from the manufacturer of other Porcelanosa products. Savings of up to 40% on CO2 emissions are made using this approach. Porcelanosa’s Waterforest is an initiative designed to radically save water in the home bathroom, by 89% in fact. From thermostatic showers heads, to dual flush WCs and aerated taps as well as Led lighting. Technology moving towards sustainability.

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Sustainable construction products

The most commonly used building materials are not necessarily visible to the eye, the One-flex Premium by Butech is an example of how plastics can be recycled within an advanced adhesive for fixing wall and floor tiles, even in the most difficult conditions. A total of 40% of the product volume is sourced from recycled plastics. Other such innovative products include insulation made from recycled (and thoroughly washed) nappies, and nowadays there’s even a company that can convert waste paper into timber for furniture.

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