New home construction comes at a tremendous expense to the planet. Building 1.7 million homes with traditional wood, steel and concrete frames consumes the same amount of energy as heating and cooling 10 million houses each year, according to the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials. The environmental costs stem largely from the manufacture of the materials. Cement production, for example, requires an astounding amount of energy and results in water and air pollution and industrial waste that is usually not recycled. Using natural materials that require minimal processing or refining reduces these environmental impacts.
Natural building offers a way to construct a home with renewable, naturally occurring and locally available materials, as opposed to industrial or man-made products. Many of these materials are available throughout the world, so the costs and pollution associated with the transportation of these materials across the country falls. Using natural materials also reduce toxins in the home. As a bonus, many of these methods are energy efficient, inexpensive and easy to build with little construction knowledge. In this article, we'll look at 10 natural building materials that are being used today.