Breaking news: it’s 2023! And in case you didn’t know, that means that we can only expect more innovation, more creativity, and even more focus on sustainability when it comes to green building technology. When it comes to environmentally friendly materials, we’ve probably all heard of a few: the latest recyclable plastic, perhaps, or maybe a slick new compostable paper. But today, we’re here to tell you about some particularly wacky, especially wow-worthy new developments in the world of eco-friendly fabrication.
If you think that name sounds odd, trust us: we’re just getting started. To understand what rammed earth is, look no further than… the original Great Wall of China! Rammed earth is essentially a fancy term for gravel, sand, and clay, expertly proportioned and compressed. Nowadays, rammed earth is actually considered a luxury material, and can be found in affluent homes far and wide.
This material is so uniquely useful on account of its heat-absorption properties: it can capture sweltering rays of sun by day, and release all that earth-bound heat by night. Though its typical usage is as a wall insulator, it can be used in floors as well for a ground-up heating effect. Cool, right? More like well-heated!
You might think you know all about sun-soaking roof panels. We’re here to blow your mind: now, we have tiles that actually are the solar panel. That’s right: now you can opt for a full roof of solar tiles. Tesla has created one option, although there are others out there to choose from as well if you’re interested.
Paired with a battery, these tiles can theoretically fulfill all your home energy needs. Buh-bye, carbon footprint!
We kicked off this list with earth insulation, which is kooky enough. But this list would not be complete without a nod to the even kookier development that is mushroom insulation. A mushroom’s underground root networks, also known as its mycelium, is a key element of a mysterious new material that is more durable than concrete and fully compostable to boot. Mushrooms seem to be all the rage nowadays – hopefully, this latest superpower will ensure that they continue to make headlines in 2023.
Extra Vegan Leather
Now we get into the truly innovative sphere of eco-friendly materials. The company Modern Meadow has been hard at work to develop a new material that mimics leather and is also verifiable plant-based. The solution? Their brand-new Bio-Alloy process, which involves plant-based protein polymers. A partnership with textile and materials supplier Limonta, titled Biofabbrica, has led to the almighty Bio-Tex: their first-ever line of materials to be made with this new technology.
Touted on the Biofabbrica website as a “sustainable range of responsibly produced biofabricated materials”, these sleek new sustainable substances boast a 90% reduction in greenhouse gases when compared with traditional leather. As the icing on the eco-conscious cake, it is also a certified biobased material. How’s that for extra-vegan?
Here’s the thing: natural rubber is hard to come by these days. The beloved Hevea brasiliensis is the tree responsible for serving humanity the natural rubber that companies often like to use for tires and other rubber products. Unfortunately, this tree is presently under threat of extinction, and demand is anticipated to soon overtake supply. Luckily, an alternative exists: dandelions. Of course!
The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory has been working with Canadian tire retailer Goodyear and dandelion expert Farmed Materials to make this happen. If the new tires ace their performance tests, they may just become a mainstay of Air Force vehicles. Next up… a partnership with Lime to build some floral new scooters! That’s what we’re hoping for, anyway.
Or maybe we should stay, wood of steel. A new cellulose-based kind of fibrous material, titled MettleWood, has emerged to embody that very concept. If we are to trust the assessment of parent start-up InventWood, this material is “60 percent stronger than construction-grade steel but 80 percent lighter”. No complaints here! Not only does MettleWood beat out the competition in price and lightness, but it’s “much less expensive and far more sustainable.” So… where’s the catch?
There isn’t any – only that this material is still a well-kept secret. Though given that it won a $20 million federal award just a few months ago, it likely won’t be for much longer!
Build Green, Live Green
Eco-friendly materials are the future, and the possibilities seem endless. We’re here for the endless creativity and the start-ups that aren’t afraid to take risks and reinvent the wheel – or the wall, as the case may be. Keep up with Green Schools Green Future for more articles on sustainability initiatives, environmental issues, and generally living life to its greenest.
Written by Tara Smylie