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  • Almeida Fernandes

The main sustainable building materials

Over time, the construction sector has also evolved to start looking for different construction materials, less harmful to the environment and thus preserving future generations.


Civil construction only exists thanks to construction materials, and their use depends on numerous factors, such as product, technology and labor force available in the region


Until recently, the building materials used were those available, with little concern about the risks that could be present to people's health and the environment, with no priority being given to the choice of sustainable building materials.


In addition to the environmental factor, it is important that cultural and social factors are respected, in order to achieve complete sustainability.

Over time, the construction sector has also evolved to start looking for different construction materials, less harmful to the environment and thus preserving future generations.


Many people, even professionals, confuse the sustainability of building materials with their origin. In other words, a material does not become sustainable just because it is green or made from elements of organic matter. There are technological materials that are equally or even more sustainable, such as solar panels, as well as organic materials that may not be sustainable, such as uncertified wood.


In addition to the environmental factor, it is important that cultural and social factors are respected, in order to achieve complete sustainability. Here are some examples of sustainable building materials:


Certified Wood

Certified wood is a very sustainable material and can benefit construction projects in many ways. In addition to being a natural, renewable and recyclable material, it is even more efficient in terms of carbon and energy retention when compared to other building materials.


Construction projects using certified wood also have numerous advantages, such as the certification system itself, which guarantees that the wood was acquired responsibly. Certification bodies such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) ensure that these criteria are met, as well as the regulation of public procurement policies in many countries for the regulation and sustainability of the use of this material.


LED lamps

Energy is one of the great enemies of sustainability, mainly because of the ways it is obtained, in large part, by burning fossil material (oil or coal). But there are already many countries leading the energy industry from renewable forces, such as Portugal, which creates and uses energy from water and wind. However, these alternatives may not be fully sustainable either, as dams, for example, can have a negative environmental and social impact.


As the use of alternative energy is still restricted, especially in developing countries, the use of LED lamps contributes to the reduction of energy consumption in a drastic way, being therefore an important sustainable material.


Ecological Bricks

Ecological bricks are made from mixtures of water and cement, construction waste or sand, among other mixtures. It is a material widely used in Brazil, for example, but with little expression in Portugal. Unlike conventional bricks, which are manufactured using a large amount of energy during baking, ecological bricks are manufactured using a hydraulic technique, contributing to the sustainability of the building material.


Solar Panels

Solar panels capture sunlight and transform it into electrical energy. In this way, by helping to reduce the need to use non-renewable energy, they are an important sustainable material that can be installed in any home. On another hand, there are also heat pumps for air conditioning which (and although they run on electricity) are low-consumption and extremely relevant in the energy classification of a building.


Biodegradable materials

The replacement of industrialized materials, which can be toxic, with natural biodegradable materials is important to achieve sustainability in civil construction. These materials can be applied in countless ways, replacing paints, glues, waterproofing agents and solvents by others produced from natural pigments, minerals and proteins.


In a final and more careful analysis, sustainable building materials do not exist by themselves and it is important to emphasize that they are only truly sustainable if they are analyzed in their regional contexts, where the work will be implemented, as it will only be sustainable if it is fully framed with the environment that surrounds it.


Sustainable materials in civil construction are fundamental elements for a project to be more sustainable and integrated in all its surroundings.