With green building becoming not only more popular, but more preferred by municipalities, companies are looking for additional ways to cut costs. Sometimes the initial cost of going green can’t be absorbed as quickly as planned, although the long-term savings are real. So, to offset some of those initial costs, companies are looking for other areas where costs can be cut. One of those ways is utilizing alternative materials.

Using green material is part of the green building process, but this route of alternative materials adds a whole new dynamic to building in general. A lot of these are taking the waste created during a manufacturing process and making a new material out of it, a material which can be used in another part of the building process. So this goes with green building because of it’s waste reduction properties, but they aren’t materials that are widely used today. Yet.

According to TheConstructor.org, “Alternate building materials are those which can be used economically by replacing the conventional building materials. Alternate building materials are made from waste products and thus it even minimizes environmental pollutions.

These alternate building materials can be used when it meets the respective specifications in the code of practice."

Some of these materials include aluminum, bitumen materials, soil conditioning agents, tempered glass, crumb rubber, ferro-cement and more. They all have practical applications in the building process from structural to aesthetics. Here is a brief idea of what some of the advantages and uses of these materials are:

Aluminum – highly durable and low maintenance, can be alloyed, non-corrosive. Can be used in windows, doors, facades, roofs, walls, building superstructure, door handles, staircases, HVAC and waterproofing, as a support structure for solar panels and more.

Bitumen Materials – high performing asphalt pavement systems. Reduced permanent deformation, fatigue cracking, low temperature cracking in hot asphalt mixes, soil conditioning agents, polymer liquids and foams. Good uses in tunneling and pipe jacking.

Tempered Glass – thermally tempered glazing, good for car windows. Polycarbonate glazing for bullet proof glass.

Crumb Rubber – Made from shredded scrap tires, also can be made by adding rubber to asphalt which is called crumb rubber modified asphalt. Reduces skid, aids in noise reduction, potential use for insulation.

Ferro-cement – Made of material that consists of wires meshes and cement mortar. It is a form of reinforced concrete with low self-weight, lack of skilled workers and no need of framework. It can be used structurally for walls and roofs, or

While this list is no all-inclusive, it does hit on several alternative materials that can be used in construction today. These materials can aid in the building process and come at a lesser cost than traditional materials. For example, according to gharpedia.com, ferrocement saves 20% on cost and materials.

Not all alternative materials will be right for your project, but knowing that there are options for cost reduction is certainly helpful. Anytime a business can cut costs without sacrificing quality, it’s a win for everyone involved. In this case, it’s not just a win for the builder or developer, it’s a win for the consumer who is getting a sustainable, reliable building. And it’s a win for the environment because most of these materials offer a reduced impact on our Earth, thus making them green and eco-friendly.