Alternative Building Materials and Methods Essay

1257 Words 6 Pages
Alternative Building Materials and Methods

The buildup of past construction techniques up to our present point in time has denoted wood as being the first and foremost material used to build houses in the United States. Building codes prescribe wood to build homes, because of both its structural benefits and because it is ingrained in the industry as the material of choice. Because wood has been used for so long, it is the material that builders know best and are the most comfortable with. However, the world’s forests are rapidly disappearing, as wood is used inefficiently and excessively in building – both the quantity of houses and the amount of wood used within a single house helps to quickly deplete our natural wood
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The different methods generally not only use techniques that make wood a less practical candidate for building, but they make development and upkeep of structures more environmentally friendly than they have been in the past.

There are several factors to consider when comparing different types of “green” building with traditional building methods and materials. One of the first issues to consider, and one that carries a lot of weight with consumers, is whether or not alternatives are economically and/or environmentally more beneficial than the traditional system. In India, use of wood substitutes such as flyash and ferro-cements may reduce building costs by 15-25% (AsiaPulse). However, in the United States, Big Timber has such a foothold in the government that it receives subsidies making building with timber much more cost-efficient than building with alternatives (Daly). Because of this, some people have questioned whether or not the payback time from investing in alternatives will be small enough that environmentally friendly alternatives are economically worthwhile. If the cost to be environmentally friendly is only slightly more than the other options, then people will probably pay the extra money. However, if the cost is much greater, then it is much less likely that people will pay the extra money because it is not economically practical (Carr Everbach, personal communication).

Another determinant in the future of alternative building