The different types of eco building materials can be broken down into categories such as sustainable flooring and countertops, reclaimed demolition waste, and environmentally friendly items. Sustainable items are alternatives to traditional building materials, such as fast growing bamboo flooring instead of hardwood. Reclaimed building materials are second-hand items that are often retrieved from demolition sites, so there is typically little or no negative environmental impact associated with reusing them. Environmentally friendly materials are specifically designed have a low ecological impact, and are commonly sourced locally as well. When some or all of these eco building materials are used in a project, it is often referred to as green, environmentally responsible, or sustainable.
Eco building materials can refer to a wide range of different items that are often used in ecologically sound construction projects. These items can be vastly different in origin and composition, though they are all more ecologically sound than traditional materials. These eco building materials can typically be obtained from companies that specialize in providing them to builders and contractors, though it is also possible to source them in a more piecemeal fashion.
One main type of eco building material is defined by the concept of sustainability. These building materials are typically seen as alternatives to traditional components that are not sustainable. Many types of hardwoods are classified as not being sustainable, so bamboo flooring is one popular alternative. Since bamboo grows very quickly, it can not be depleted like hardwood forests can. Other types of woods can also serve as eco building materials, as long as the forests they come from are certified as being sustainable. Many other materials also fall into this category, such as cork and the linseed oil that is used to make linoleum.
Another type of ecologically sound building material is demolition waste. These second-hand materials are reclaimed from demolition sites and reused as fill or crushed for use as aggregate in concrete mixtures. Fixtures and other items can often be reused as well. Even if the original production of these materials was not environmentally friendly, reuse can keep them out of landfills and have a net positive impact. These types of second-hand building materials can often be sourced locally as well, which is environmentally friendly due to the reduced amount of pollution associated with transportation.
Other eco building materials are designed to make buildings more energy efficient. When buildings are designed to require less heating and cooling, they typically have a lower environmental impact than other similarly sized structures. Other ecologically sound building materials can facilitate the installation of green roofs and other design elements that can create buildings that are more environmentally friendly.