How Sustainable Building Materials Impact the Environment

Building materials have an enormous impact on the environment as well as the building health itself, along with the occupant’s wellbeing. We gain some insights on how sustainable building materials impact the environment from the founders of Tŷ-Mawr Lime.

Nigel and Joyce Gervis, founders of Wales-based Tŷ-Mawr Lime, started to realise this in the process of restoring their own property, a former farm, in the early 1990’s. They turned their knowledge and passion into a multi-award winning business and ever since they have been committed to raising awareness on the issue of sustainability in materials; they aim to make sustainable materials more widely available, affordable and to deliver training in their use.

Building materials and the environment

Building materials impact the environment at different stages of their life—so it is important to consider them all; from their extraction and transportation, through to their processing/ manufacturing, use and then their final disposal. Given that the UK construction industry uses more than 400 million tonnes of construction materials every year, choosing natural, recycled or renewable materials with reduced environmental impact could quickly make an enormous difference to improving our environment. The impact at different stages of the lifecycle of the material should be carefully considered.

Buildings are also responsible for more than 40 percent of global energy use and one third of global greenhouse gas emissions, therefore making our homes more energy efficient is one of the most beneficial changes we can make to help the environment; reducing energy consumption and saving us money. Tŷ-Mawr Lime have developed a full range of registered insulation solutions to help homeowners wishing to use sustainable materials for all aspects of insulating new builds as well as retrofit, including external and internal wall insulation, roof insulation and their award winning insulated floors.

See also: Green Your Clean

Building materials and health

In the UK, we can spend up to 90% of our time indoors, and so indoor air quality can have a large impact on human health. Natural materials do not pollute our internal environment, unlike modern materials and paints, which can do. Some natural materials such as sheep’s wool insulation can actually improve the indoor air quality by locking up harmful chemicals given off by some glues, furniture and carpets.

Choosing sustainable building materials such as lime plasters and paints that are hygroscopic can also impact the environment in a positive way by helping with indoor air quality by regulating humidity levels. Humidity levels are key to creating a healthier environment, if it is too dry or too humid, it can promote the growth and spread of fungi, moulds, mites, viruses and bacteria which can lead to tracheal infections, allergies and asthma.

See also: The Energy Efficient Home 

Building materials and building longevity

Longevity of buildings is often overlooked—but what can be more sustainable than a building which stands for hundreds of years rather than a building with a short lifespan, often less than a century! Again, choosing to use natural materials such as lime plasters mean, if properly maintained, they can last for hundreds of years compared to cement renders which have a usual lifespan of up to 25 years if you are lucky.  

Our thanks to Tŷ-Mawr Lime for their assistance with this article. For more information on Tŷ-Mawr Lime’s products, services and how sustainable building materials impact the environment, visit their website: lime.org.uk/

If you have enjoyed reading this article on how sustainable building materials impact the environment, click here to read more on Celebrity Angels about RDA architects working with nature to create sustainable builds.

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