3 Sustainable Materials To Construct a Stylish, Eco-Friendly Home in India

Congested roads, hour-long traffic snarls, garbage piles, smog caused by pollution, unseasonal rains, floods, and scorching summers – chances are you are familiar with all these problems if you live in the city. This is why more urbanites are choosing to spend their weekends in the midst of nature at resorts, and a few eco-conscious citizens amongst us are constructing homes in a more earth-friendly way, so as to reduce their dependence on non-renewable materials. With a little bit of forethought, there is no reason you cannot construct a new home or renovate using environmentally friendly materials. Here are a few thought-starters on building a more sustainable home or resort in India.

Straw Bale Construction
Straw is a cheap, local, renewable, plentifully found material in India. When crops like rice, wheat or barley are harvested, the dry stalks of these plants yield straw as a waste product. Farmers usually burn straw in large quantities or use it as livestock bedding or fodder. While loose straw can catch flame, tightly packed bales are dense enough to prevent air circulation – making it a surprisingly fire-retardant and safe material for construction. Straw bales provide superior heat and sound insulation. And coating dry bales with thick plaster keeps termites and bugs away. All these reasons make straw an excellent, natural, lightweight, inexpensive, durable, eco-friendly, non-toxic, sustainable material to build your home with. Straw bale homes survive decades with no wear and tear and cost a fraction of what normal construction material does.

There are a number of ways to construct using straw bales. You could opt for the ‘Nebraska’ style, where straw bales bear the entire load of the structure, else you could use straw bales to reinforce a timber framework. Alternatively, you could use straw bales as a filler, where the structure of the house is constructed using timber, or steel, or concrete, and straw bales are used as insulator blocks in between posts, for additional stability, and insulation, finishing off with a coating of drywall, plaster or stucco.

Bamboo Floors
India, China, and Myanmar together hold 80% of the world’s bamboo forest reserves. Bamboo is a local, completely sustainable material to build with for the plant grows to full maturity in just a few years, and does not need to be uprooted to be harvested. Bamboo grows plentifully in the northeast in India and is much stronger compared to hardwood. Today, bamboo products from Tripura are in great demand by clients across the world. Bamboo can be used to construct beams, decks, wall panels, floors, doors, windows and more.

Bamboo floors are typically less expensive compared to hardwood floors, easy to maintain and clean. This material also retains heat at night and stays cool in during the day. Bamboo floors can be installed on any surface but are not recommended for use in bathrooms, or saunas with a high exposure to moisture. You can choose bamboo in a variety of grains, colours, and finishes. You can opt for traditional bamboo or stronger strand woven bamboo, or even the browner, softer, carbonised bamboo, for a stylish yet sustainable home.

Palmex Artificial Thatch for Roofs
While straw and bamboo are all natural materials, manmade materials can be equally environmentally friendly. For instance, Palmex is artificial synthetic material that mimics the look of palm leaves or natural thatch, but does not need to be fumigated with toxic chemicals to keep mold, mildew, and insects away. Using Palmex also does away with the need to harvest trees for leaves helping keep our green cover intact.

Made using high-density polyethylene (HDPE), Palmex is very durable and 100% recyclable. Lightweight, heat, UV- and wind-resistant, Palmex roofs are LEED-certified and do not fade. Our roofing solutions come with a 20-year guarantee and last up to 50 years, which makes it a superior alternative to natural thatch, which has to be replaced every 3-5 years. All these reasons make Palmex a green, sustainable material that can be installed on your pre-existing roof, or construct a brand new roof for an up and coming building.

Do contact us to learn more about Palmex, a green roofing solution for your vacation home, primary residence, resort or wellness centre. And keep visiting our blog for more information on green and sustainable building.

Preeti Prakash | Journalist

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