A lot of people are looking to go green these days, but some are taking it a step further and looking to completely eliminate the carbon footprint of their homes. Many people are leaving modern housing behind in favor of older building methods, resulting in an increase of homes made of natural materials like mud and clay. While this type of home isn’t for everyone, those who can make the switch are able to live much more eco-friendly lifestyles.
The Need For Going Green
When you’re trying to reduce your environmental impact, you probably first think of smaller measures like recycling and skipping on plastic straws. However, that’s not enough for many people, and these people often look to their homes as a way to reduce their impact. While most people don’t usually think about it, modern-style homes can be incredibly wasteful.
Modern homes are often designed with materials that aren’t the best for the environment. Hardwood is used in many homes both for decorative and structural purposes, yet the majority of hardwood trees take anywhere from 40 to 60 years to fully mature. This means it takes decades to replace a tree felled for home construction. Most home fixtures don’t help with using fewer resources, as well; the average American uses between 140 and 170 gallons of water every day, and much of that is in the home.
Why Natural Materials?
Natural materials like clay and mud aren’t just affordable; there’s historical evidence that they can be used to make incredibly sturdy and stable homes. Egyptians and Mesopotamians used the first composite building materials in 1500 BC by mixing mud and straw for building. Various cultures throughout history have made use of the nearby materials for constructing their homes, and often that has resulted in homes constructed from clay. People building and living in adobe homes of their own use these historical methods to construct their own homes, and it seems to be working incredibly well.
Do Earth Homes Help?
Earth homes, whether cob, adobe, or even only partially earth-sheltered, are shockingly good at reducing your environmental footprint. Because the homes require fewer resources to build, they’re more efficient during construction. However, these homes are also good at reducing energy use later on. Because they’re designed with the maximum energy efficiency in mind, many use low-flow water fixtures and construction techniques like passive solar to reduce electricity use. With the EPA estimating over a trillion gallons of water is wasted due to leaky and inefficient faucets every year, low flow fixtures can make an immediate impact.
That being said, earth homes aren’t for everyone. They require time and patience to build, and many places across the nation don’t allow them due to zoning laws. Additionally, many owners of these earth homes have had to build them themselves, as many contractors don’t work with these techniques or materials. However, for those truly invested in reducing their impact on the environment, homes made out of these green materials can be a perfect fit.
Would you ever live in an earth-sheltered, cob, or adobe home? Why or why not?
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