What are the Best "Green" Materials to Use in My Home Build?

Posted on:  July 31, 2022

What are the Best "Green" Materials to Use in My Home Build?

The term “green” is used to mean so many different things these days. Whether it’s being made from recycled products, cutting energy consumption reducing air pollutants, or all of the above, green building materials are on the rise. What are examples of green, or environmentally friendly, building materials being used in residential construction today? How can you use green building materials in your custom home or remodel?


Bamboo has been a popular green go-to for years. It offers a unique grain pattern that isbamboo flooring often leveraged in its application. Its bright, warm tone and pronounced nodes are embraced by designers when it’s used in floors, furniture, cabinet door veneers, and more. Bamboo also accepts wood stains just as wood can, so you can coordinate the tone of the bamboo with your other design choices. 

Bamboo is a highly sustainable material, in some cases growing up to three feet in 24 hours! It can also be harvested every three years, compared to the 25 years of a tree. Using bamboo reduces deforestation for this reason. Bamboo can be grown in almost any climate, grows without needing to be replanted, and spreads very easily–almost too easily. 

This material is also very strong and long-lasting, making it excellent for flooring. It is, however, susceptible to rot and attracts insects. So, sealing and treating bamboo properly is imperative. Avoid off-gassing, or the release of pollutants into the air, by using only bamboo that has been certified toxic-free. 


Low E Windows

Low E, or low emittance, windows are coated with a razor-thin non-toxic coating to improve energy efficiency. By cutting the amount of heating and cooling you need to produce in your home, you are saving on utility costs and reducing greenhouse gasses. They keep your heating and cooling in and block heat from the sun, without limiting the amount of sunlight that gets through. The Low E layer does this by absorbing UV rays. When combined with multiple panes of glass, the Low E layer efficiency only increases. 

The reduction of UV rays entering your home will also save your furniture, rugs, and drapes from fading. Installing these, especially in rooms you get the most light, Low E windows can save you from unnecessary upholstery bills and keep furniture waste out of landfills. Add these savings to what you’ll save on energy and the windows pay for themselves over time. 



For a building material to be considered certifiably ‘green’ it must consist of 25% recycledsteel material. On average, structural steel contains about 93% of recycled material, which is just one reason why the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) organization gives the steel its highest ranking. 

Steel can be used in place of the standard wood for framing your custom home project. It’s durable, recyclable, and requires significantly less energy to produce than lumber. It’s mostly made of iron and recycled steel and retains its strength no matter how many times it’s already been recycled. Steel is a permanent resource as long as it’s recycled, which is the case for 98% of the material. 



The incredibly durable, economically viable, and environmentally friendly terrazzo has been used in high-traffic facilities for a long time. Now, architects, contractors, and designers are realizing not only its usefulness in residential construction but also the creative license it gives. 

What is terrazzo? It’s a mixture of scrap glass or stone with either epoxy or cement. The glass or stone, usually granite or marble, is typically post-production material that would otherwise go to a landfill. It’s been used as the top flooring choice of hospitals, airports, and schools because it's inexpensive and can last up to 40 years with regular wear and tear. Also, because it’s a natural compound, terrazzo doesn’t contain any volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are a leading cause of air pollution. 

Terrazzo is completely water-resistant when it’s sealed, making it a great option for kitchen and bathroom countertops, bathroom floors, and even tile. When molded into hexagonal or rectangular tiles, you can create a custom tile pattern. Combine different colors, and shades of gray, or evoke the timeless black and white checkerboard pattern. Additionally, terrazzo is an excellent material for radiant heated bathroom floors. 


Composite Roofing Shingles

Composite shingles are typically made from a combination of plastic, polyester, resin, androofing shingles fiberglass. The outcome is strong, durable, and lasts far longer than your standard asphalt shingles. They are resistant to cracking, splitting, and warping. Composite shingles are also fire, impact, and fade resistant, helping this roofing material stay looking new for years. 

Using material on your roof that requires far less replacement than the standard roofing material means less maintenance, fewer repairs, and less replacement. The costs saved on using composite roofing shingles build substantially over time. Composite shingles can last between 20 to 50 years with proper maintenance. 

You’ll also save on energy costs with composite shingles. The material is less pervious to heat, cold, and moisture, meaning your home won’t have to work so hard to maintain a comfortable temperature. 



Concrete is nothing new to the construction site. How concrete is being used might be, however. As a building material, concrete is abundant in raw form, durable, thermally efficient, and recyclable. Concrete’s reputation has also been changing over the past several years as far as its aesthetic potential. 

Concrete is predominantly made of incredibly abundant limestone. It can also be made from post-production waste from steel mills and power plants, keeping materials from going to the landfill or ending up in our oceans. The production of the concrete itself reduces waste compared to other materials because it is created on a need-be basis. And when a concrete structure is being demolished, the material can be crushed and used in other projects like roads. 

Today, many designers are using concrete for more than the structural aspects of a building. Use concrete to create custom poured countertops for your kitchen or porch floors. Mix in recycled glass for an interesting visual texture and for pops of color. Concrete can be dyed to your preferred shade and polished for a smooth finish. 


Meet With A Professional Designer About Going Green

Going green in every part of the custom building process is easier than ever. From the foundation to the roof, your home can save you money on energy and help you sleep well at night knowing you’re impacting the environment as little as possible. Building with green materials is gaining in popularity and a definite bonus if you plan to sell your home

When you’re ready to meet with a design-build firm about your goals and to find out more about building with green materials in New Jersey, be sure to ask about their experience with environmentally friendly projects. JMC Home Improvement Specialists is a New Jersey based design-build firm that is committed to exceeding homeowner’s expectations. We are always on the cusp of what new materials are in demand and why, while remaining experts in the tried-and-true materials of home construction. Contact JMC Home Improvement Specialists to set up a consultation about what your home can do for both you and the environment.


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