Green Building Materials

Green Building Materials: What Is It All About


– Ecological materials: their usefulness

– The characteristics of green materials

– The obstacles to the use of ecological materials

Ecological materials are construction materials whose impact on the environment and health is limited, as much for their production and transport and use. However, the numerous environmental problems linked to buildings have been known for a long time and have necessitated an awareness of the sector through ambitious reforms.

Ecological materials: their usefulness

The building industry is one of the largest energy-consuming sectors. This consumption is multi-faceted: from the energy needed to extract raw materials, transform and package them to the energy used for on-site implementation, including transport and recycling at the end of life. The will to be in a reduction of the consumption of resources and fossil energies thus obliges to think according to two ways:

– We can use traditional materials that require less energy consumption in the different forms mentioned. This implies working on production processes and logistics.

– We can also use more “natural” materials, i.e., materials that exist in their natural state. When these materials are derived from plant or animal biomass, they are called bio-sourced materials.

Thus, ecological materials are less polluting not only during their manufacture but also once installed. It is essential to keep in mind that many building products continue to emit chemical compounds once installed, polluting the indoor air.

The reduction of the types of pollution is to be taken in a broad sense, with, for example, materials that require less noisy tools to install them (fight against noise pollution) or that are better sound insulators.

The characteristics of ecological materials

The ecological materials must present a certain number of characteristics.


For example, they must be easily renewable, i.e., they must not come from a limited source depleted with use. They must consume as little energy as possible for transportation, favoring short circuits (local materials used locally). Finally, the manufacturing processes must be as energy and raw-material-efficient as possible.


They must be recyclable so that they can be reused at least once as is, or even several times, reconditioned to obtain the same new material, at the end of the product’s life cycle and introduced into another process, still at the end of its life, to contribute to the manufacture of a different new product. Residues from the production of green materials should be used to provide low-cost, low-emission energy or be part of the production process for other green materials.


Ecological materials must preserve the health of the operators who manufacture them and those who use them or of the final customer (for example, fewer pollutants in the indoor air).

Close to conventional materials

The dimensions and quantities of materials to be used should not be too far from the same characteristics of conventional materials so that construction workers can easily install them. Also, their performance according to the sector concerned must be compatible with the requirements of the regulation.

Note: The energy contained in the building materials must be taken into account and also be related to the expected life of the building. And that whatever the body of work, for example in insulation.

Use of ecological materials

Green Building Materials

The list is long because ecological materials exist in all sectors; we can only mention a few:

– For the shell, wood (provided it comes from sustainably managed forests with FSC label) and raw earth bricks for walls, green roofs for roofing.

– For insulation, vegetable wools (based on hemp, for example), animal wools, wool or wood fiber panels (same remark as for the shell), and cork correspond to many of the criteria stated.

– For coatings, you can choose organic paints and natural fabric textiles.

Important: Many building products called “natural” or “ecological” are not because there is no global standard certifying all ecological materials and guaranteeing this characteristic to the consumer. Be careful because some manufacturers do not hesitate to “self-label” their products with an extensive communication campaign without their proven ecological character. 

The brakes on the use of ecological materials

Among the brakes, the price. Indeed, ecological materials generate an additional cost of 10 to 30% for the same surfaces; this argument tends not to be a priority anymore, on the one hand, because these materials often allow having a lower energy consumption during the dwelling, on the other hand, because their more and more frequent use brings the prices down.

It is also necessary that the raw material is present in sufficient quantity, which is not always the case. In particular, there are conflicts of use; some materials are already used by other industrial transformation sectors (in the food industry, for example).

The argument of the use of local materials or even of the manufacture of materials on the building site (house in raw earth bricks or straw) is difficult to support within the framework of important construction programs which require a massive production of materials, corresponding to precise specifications, thus industrialization of the process which can be carried out only in some factories.

It is not always easy for them to comply with existing (non-ecological) technical standards, mainly when they are derived from natural substances. In this case, their conditioning, drying rate, or other characteristics may vary depending on the region of origin.

Ecological materials can sometimes require a specific technicality for their installation (straw house, for example), which not all construction workers have.

But an unstoppable argument.

In front of all these opposing arguments, we must put a positive one, which could erase them all: using materials coming from a reasonably managed biomass, i.e., producing more than the consumption we want to make of it, is the only way to build sustainably and to guarantee an efficient mix between:

– performance of the building;

– preservation of natural resources

– non-relocatable jobs;

– the fight against environmental pollution and the health safety of manufacturing personnel and building professionals.

Read more:

Towards Sustainability | Building Your Home With Natural Materials

How Do You Recognize an Eco-Constructor?

Eco-construction is in fashion whether it is through the wooden house, the timber-frame house, or bio-climatic architecture. When you build your own house, self-construction often rhymes with Eco-construction, but there are also professionals who can advise you in this sense: Eco-constructors.

Is your contractor an Eco-builder in construction or renovation?

The notion of ecology in construction and/or renovation aims at maximum performance in the various fields impacting the environment during the design, construction, and occupation of a property. Thus, Eco-construction has multiple goals to achieve in relation to:

– the environment: preservation of energy and water resources, the fight against climate change, environmental and health quality of construction products, waste reduction;

– to people: reduction of pollution-induced by housing, health, and comfort of the occupants by preserving IAQ (indoor air quality), thermal and sound insulation, etc.

An Eco-builder is therefore an individual or a professional with the desire to achieve these goals at each stage of the construction and then use of a building, in order to obtain a building with the least negative impact on the environment while preserving the health and comfort of its occupants.

If any individual who is a self-builder of his house is able at all levels to apply its principles of Eco-construction, professionals must, to be qualified as Eco-constructors, apply reference frames and standards.

Principles of Eco-construction by professionals

In order to be able to design, build, renovate, fit-out and equip an Eco-built building, the whole of a sustainable approach is to apply principles and methods to different actors, professionals, and trades during the construction process:

The study of the project

Integration of the building in its environment: location, bio-climatic architecture taking into account the reduction of heating and cooling needs by optimizing free inputs (solar, geothermal, rainwater, etc.).

Its design

Reduction of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions while favoring resources in the choice of construction materials and exploiting renewable energies (rainwater recovery, energy production by the building, ventilation management, etc.).

Its realization

Reduction of nuisances from the construction site and then from the building in operation: limitation of atmospheric emissions, sorting, and recovery of waste, reduction of noise levels.

How to recognize an Eco-constructor?

If at present there is no professional certification of Eco-builder yet, we can qualify the various major actors of construction having satisfied one of the 3 following certifications as Eco-construction aware:


– HQE;


It is therefore first of all through their commitment to respect the environment during the study (architects, design offices, etc.), design (design offices, energy specialists, renewable energy professionals, heating engineers, etc.) and construction (builders, masons, electricians, plumbers, heating engineers, etc.) of the building that Eco-constructors can be selected. It is good that each of these professionals can attest to at least one achievement having obtained one of the certifications of sustainable building, and if possible the HQE certification.

In fact, an Eco-builder is not more expensive than a conventional builder, but the materials, techniques, etc. may represent an additional cost.

Good to know: the professional license “Project management in Eco-construction and Eco-materials” aims to train autonomous senior technicians in project management and construction and manufacturing management in the field of Eco-construction and Eco-materials with direct professional integration at the end of the license year.

Hope the above helps you out in finding the right Eco-builder for your Eco-project. Should you be looking for more info, please do not hesitate to write down your comments in the section below. We will find out as much information as possible and get back to you within hours.