Natural and Green Building Strategies for Eco-Minded Buyers
Natural home building refers to construction that is accomplished through mostly natural materials, rather than man-made and/or industrial materials. Even if you never build with adobe or straw, there are ways to create homes that appeal to buyers who have an affinity for sustainable housing. Here’s how it’s done.
What is Natural Building?
In essence, natural building involves techniques focused on creating sustainable structures, which minimize their ecological impact. Natural buildings typically rely on minimally processed, locally available, non-industrial and renewable materials, along with salvaged or recycled materials when available. Natural building also involves sustainable design practices intended to integrate buildings into their environments.
What Are Some Examples of Natural Building?
Natural and alternative building technologies are used internationally to create sustainable housing. Among the most publicized examples include:
Timber Framing: This involves joining heavy timbers with tenon and mortise joints, pegged with wooden dowels, as opposed to smaller dimensional lumber and screws and nails. Open bays of a timber frame wall are often filled with cob, light-clay straw, straw bale or some other naturally produced material.
Post and Beam Framing: This involves the use of larger timbers to carry wall and roof weight over wider spaces, but relies on more commonly-available steel hardware joinery.
Straw bale: Made from straw, these natural structural components can be stacked like bricks to create the walls of a home.
Cob: Cob is a mixture of clay, sand and straw similar to adobe. Lumps of wet cob are applied to build up a bench, wall or thermal mass around stoves.
Wattle and Daub: Made from flexible wood or fibers, wattles are woven loosely to form an underlying support structure for walls (think of a loosely woven basket). The builder then daubs plaster onto the wattle to finish the wall and create thermal mass.
Going Natural with Your Builds
According to the Society of Mechanical Engineers, while natural building comes with a number of benefits, it has struggled to make inroads in the construction industry, due to a number of issues, including a lack of knowledge and building codes. That said, even if you aren’t certain about using natural building techniques, you can still appeal to eco-minded buyers by incorporating some of the following green building strategies:
- Use reclaimed wood and recycled materials
- Integrate more natural lighting and energy-efficient designs
- Choose materials that can absorb solar heat such as fabricated or natural brick
- Opt for open design layouts to reduce material requirements and construction costs
- Consider using eco-friendly floorings, such as laminated wood and bamboo
However you choose to do it, the more you infuse natural or green features in your builds, the more compelling the home will be in the eyes of modern eco-minded buyers. This is a great way to differentiate your business from the competition and add unique selling points that set your homes apart from similar inventory.
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