Sarasvathy. V

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As the population grows and as people have more money in their hands to spend, they will naturally be spending more on items which are costly not only to people but costly to the sustainability of our environment, while steps have been taken to promote rain water harvesting and to convert waste to energy, there is also a need to make ones buildings and houses also environment friendly.

The increasing global warming, depletion of natural resources and the energy crises have made people aware and the government that the change is very much essential for our world to survive. Human beings should find a greener way to live ones lives. Moreover, one needs to find necessary information that will make the home and family more environmentally friendly as well as more energy efficient.


Meaning and concept


Eco-friendly literally means earth-friendly or not harmful to the environment. This term most commonly refers to products that contribute to green living or practices that help conserve resources like water and energy. Eco-friendly products also prevent contributions to air, water and land pollution. One can engage in eco-friendly habits or practices by being more conscious of how one use resources which are non toxic.


One should know the importance of being nature friendly. Nowadays, eco friendly products are readily available; one can be earth friendly by using these products and by using organic chemicals instead of harsh ones for their purposes. To be very precise, being earth friendly or eco friendly has become a necessity, that everybody should take part in. So, become a green consumer. Being eco friendly will help save our planet as well as making a better place for future generations to come. It is in our hand to make our environment healthy to live in.


Green building which is also called as green construction or sustainable building is simply the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle. Green building principles aimed at minimizing impact upon the environment. In other words, these buildings are specifically designed to reduce the entire impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment through the efficient use of the resources such as water, energy and other resources. They aimed to protect occupant health & improve employee productivity as well as to reduce waste, pollution and environmental degradation. The concept of building green provides the key advantages of – environment or earth friendly use of indigenous natural materials, energy efficiency, water conservation, fire safety as well as excellent indoor air quality. It advocates something more than recycling and energy conservation. It prescribes an attitudinal change. As far as green living is concerned, it’s more than recycling and conserving energy. One needs to learn about different green products as well as environmentally or earth friendly construction materials.


Biodegradable materials: are better, because they don’t require energy for recycling. A few are: Dirt, Plant material, Wood, Food waste, Food products (like corn or potato-derived “styrofoam” cups, etc.), Animal waste (though may not be very pleasant or safe), Biodegradable soaps, Clothing made from organic cotton or hemp and Bamboo


Eco friendly materials used in interiors


Many kinds of building materials are used in masonry, framework, main structure, furnishings, upholsteries etc.


Organic Building materials (OBM):These are engineering materials, made by a mixture of different hydrocarbons sometimes together with sulphur, nitrogen and oxygen derivatives, used in residential constructions. Organic materials used on or in buildings can be classified according to their use. They include:


  •  Liquid coatings (paints)
  •   Plastics
  •    Sealants
  •    Roofing materials
  •    Wood

The organic substances contain the element carbon (and usually hydrogen) as a key part of their structure. All – living animals and plants are organic. A brief description of organic building materials used in building construction is summarized below. Some are used as basic building materials while others as used as finishes or supporting material to add coagulation property or aesthetics to the residences as paints on walls, doors, windows, ventilators, cupboards, and working counters.


I. Wood: is a natural polymer composed of cells in the shape of long thin tubes with tapered tubes. It is suggested that energy could be conserved by the use of wood in house construction instead of metals and plastics needing large amounts of energy to manufacture.

Wood is mainly used for doors, windows, ventilators, cupboards, floors, roofs, working counters, staircases, electric fitting boards etc. Alternate building materials used as substitute for wood are fibre boards, gypsum boards, PVC boards, EPS sandwich composites, FRP panels. Prefabricated doors and windows of these materials are available in Indian markets.


II.   Plywood: is made by bonding together a number of thin sheets or veneers of wood. They are classified under two types, based on the type of adhesive used to bond the plies together. They are:

Interior grade: Usually is bonded with water soluble glues and thus has limited resistance to moisture

Exterior grade: is completely water proof in that it can withstand prolonged immersion in water without disintegration


III.    Cellulose derivatives: is a naturally occurring high polymer found in all woody plant tissue and in such materials as cotton. It can be chemically processed into a variety of thermoplastic materials which in turn can be still further modified with plasticizers, fillers and other additives to provide a wide variety of properties. They are highly flammable. The oldest of all plastics is cellulose nitrate.


There are four types of cellulose derivatives used in interiors


Cellulose acetate: It is the basis of safety film. This film reinforced with metal mesh is widely used for temporary enclosures of buildings during construction.

Cellulose Acetate Butyrate: is a butyrate polymer. Tubing with this is used for such application as irrigation and gas lines.

Ethyl cellulose: similar in properties to the above two. It is used for general purpose and high impact in the form of two different varieties.


Cellulose nitrate: one of the toughest plastics and is the basis of most of the widely used commercial lacquers for furniture and similar items.


IV. Plastics or synthetic resins: are synthetic organic high polymers. They are of two types

   A. Thermoplastic materials

  B. Thermosetting plastics


A. Thermoplastic materials: They are extremely plastic, i.e., easily deformable at elevated temperatures. They become hard again on cooling. There are mainly 11 varieties of thermoplastics used in interiors


1. Acrylics: in the form of large transparent sheets are used in aircraft enclosures and building constructions. Also used for such applications as transparent windows, outdoors and indoor signs, parts of lighting equipments, decorative and functional automotive parts, reflectors, household appliances parts etc.


2.  ABS: these plastics are of greatest use in pipes and fittings

3.  Polycarbonate: used for safety glazing and general illumination

4.   Polyethylene: used as a primary insulating material on wire and cable, replacement for the lead jacket on communication cables and other cables

5.    Polypropylene: used mainly for complete water cisterns for water closets in plumbing systems

6.  Polycarbonate: used for safety glazing and general illumination

7.  Polyvinyl Formal Resins: Used for water resistant insulating enamel for electric wire

8.    Polyvinyl Butyral: It is the tough interlayer in safety glass. It is used extensively in coating fabrics for raincoats, upholstery, shower curtains and heavy duty moisture- resistant applications.


9.  Vinyl chloride polymers and copolymers: Non-rigid vinyl plastics are used as insulation and jacketing for electric wire and cable because of their electrical properties and resistance to oil and water. Heavy gauge sheets: used as upholstery. Vinyl chlorides: used for floor coverings in the form of tiles and sheet. Rigid materials: used for tubing, pipe and other applications which require resistance to corrosion


10.  Polystyrene formulations: It is one of the lightest of commercial plastics.

11.    Polyimide: It is employed in small  gears, cams  and other machine parts. Extruded

polyimide is coated on to electric wire, cable and rope for abrasion resistance.

B. Thermosetting plastics: These materials are either are originally soft at once upon heating but upon further heating, they harden permanently


•There are nine types of thermosetting plastics of great use in building components.


These materials are either originally soft at once upon heating but upon further heating, they harden permanently.


1.   Phenol Formaldehyde: it provides the greatest variety of thermosetting moulded plastic articles. They are used for chemical, decorative, electrical, mechanical and thermal appliances of all kinds.

2.  Cast Phenolics: Used in large quantities for brilliantly coloured parts.

3.   Epoxy and Polyester Resins: Used in electronic parts with delicate components. One of the outstanding attributes of the epoxies is their excellent adhesion to a variety of materials including such metals as copper, brass, steel and aluminium.

4.   PolyesterMoulding Materials: When compounded with fibers (particularly glass fibers) or with various mineral fibers (including clay), can be formulated into putties or premixes.


5.   Melamine Formaldehyde Materials: Unfilled materials are highly translucent and have unlimited colour possibilities.

6.  Polyurethane: It is used in several ways in construction.

  • As thermal insulation, it is used in the form of foam (either pre-foamed or foamed in place). The latter is particularly is useeful in irregular spaces.
  • When blown with fluorocarbons, the foam has an exceptionally low Lambda factor and is therefore widely used in thin walled refrigerators.
  • Other uses include field applied or baked on clear or coloured coatings and finishes for floors, walls, furniture and casework.
  • The rubbery form is employed for sprayed or trowelled on roofing and for gaskets and calking compounds.


7.  Alkyds: alkyd molding materials are highly used in electrical applications.

8.   Silicones: Silicones, unlike other plastics, are based on silicon rather than carbon. Hence their use is dependent on the types of conditions. In liquid solutions, silicones are used to impart moisture resistance to masonry walls and to fabrics. They also form the basis for a variety of paints and other coatings capable of maintaining flexibility and inertness to attack at high temperatures in the presence of ultra violet sunlight and ozone. Silicone rubbers maintain their flexibility at much lower temperatures than other rubbers.


9.     Plasticizers and Fillers: Plasticizers are added to polymers to change their basic properties, especially to make it more flexible.


Fillers are added to make plastics to stiffen them. Wood flour, mica, asbestos, fibers, and chopped fibers or fabric may be used as filler material for polymers.

  V. Asphalt: Asphalt and asphalt products are also used extensively in roofing applications.

Asphalt is used as a binder between layers in built up roofing.

Bituminous pavements: Asphalt refined to meet specifications for paving purposes is called asphalt cement. Types of asphalts produced are: Rapid curing asphalt, medium curing asphalt, slow curing asphalt and emulsified asphalt VI. Rubber:


  •   Industrial use of rubber includes tyres, tubes, protective lining in tanks, pumps, rubber beltings etc.
  •   Hand rubber is used in electrical insulating parts, chemically resistant pipes and equipments etc.
  •  Foam rubber made by incorporating gas into latex followed by vulcanization is used to make pillows, mattresses, furniture cushions etc.
  •  Sponge rubber is produced from rubber by blowing sodium carbonate and injecting fatty acids
  •  Sponge rubber is used in sealing, heat insulating, and cushioning and shock absorptions.
  •   Glues obtained from animal gelatines, vegetables and starches are widely used adhesives.
  •  Adhesives made from polymers include cellulose acetate, cellulose acetate butyrates and polysoxylin. These are thermosetting and thermoplastic adhesives.
  •   Xanthan gum is commercially the most widely produced gum using Xanthamones compacting.
  •  Animal hides contain collogues which can be hydrolized into glue or gelatin

Use of eco friendly components in an eco friendly house


Natural building materials


New home construction comes at a tremendous expense to the planet. 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.




It’s much easier to build with perfectly shaped bricks or slabs of concrete, but it’s possible to build beautiful homes with locally available rocks. The rocks can be mortared with earthen plasters such as sand and clay or lime. Rock walls have very good thermal mass, which means that they absorb the outside temperature, hold it in and then radiate it through the home. Insulation, on the other hand, stops heat from flowing in and out of the building.


Straw Bales


Straw bales provide an extremely strong building block for homes. They can act as the actual structural building block or as the fill for insulation in a traditional post-and-beam structure, where the frame supports the home, as opposed to the straw bale. After the bales are stacked, the walls are plastered. The thick walls provide excellent insulation and are about 75 percent more energy efficient than conventional homes. Rather, they provide roughly three times the fire resistance of conventional homes .Because the bales are so tightly packed, there’s no oxygen and no chance of combustion.




Decorative bamboo has long been fashionable in home design, and bamboo floors are beginning to become popular. This strong wood is a renewable resource because it’s one of the fastest growing plants. It has a shorter growing cycle than timber, and harvesting bamboo does not affect the roots of the plant. Bamboo does have to be treated with some chemicals in order to ensure that it’s waterproof and insect-resistant, and it requires some different building methods, particularly in joining different pieces of bamboo. However, bamboo is an extremely flexible building device because it bends, and it’s immensely durable. Bamboo isn’t the only wood solid enough for building houses.


Cord wood


Cordwood building uses wood that is cut into short lengths, about the size of firewood, which might otherwise go to waste. The pieces of cordwood are laid into mortar so that the length of the log makes the wall. The ends of the log stick out of the mortar on either side. The mortars that are commonly used include mixes of cement, lime, clay, sand or sawdust.


Rammed earth


To build a rammed earth home, a mixture of soils is packed down into a temporary wall form that shapes the mixture. The form is usually wooden, and it must be strong enough to withstand the compression of the ramming. Ramming can either be done by hand or by machine, and once it’s completed, the forms can be removed, leaving an earthen wall about 18 inches to 24 inches (46 cm to 61 cm) thick. Rammed earth walls require a cross-grade of soils, but too much clay will cause the walls to crack. Walls can be plastered with stucco or left bare; bare walls usually are internally stabilized with a small percentage of cement. When properly constructed, rammed earth walls are extremely durable, holding up in bad weather. They also provide energy savings because of their thermal mass.


Earth bags


. Earth bag homes, which are made of polypropylene or burlap bags stuffed with dirt and stacked like bricks, are similarly strong. The dirt in the bags presses down after each layer is placed, and this compression makes the dirt into a kind of self-supporting brick. Barbed wire serves as the mortar between the layers, and the compression makes the dirt bricks so sturdy that even a stray hole won’t affect the wall’s durability. The walls are plastered to add to their durability. These homes usually have domed roofs, which are formed by stepping in the bags gradually until the bags come together to close the dome. Structural tests have shown earth bags to be seismically sound and able to withstand the elements.




Cob lends itself easily to creative, free-form construction that includes curvy shapes and sculptural forms, and it requires minimal tools or construction experience. When the cob dries, it’s like concrete, thanks to the reinforcement of the straw; however, waiting for the cob to dry is essential before placing the next layer of cob lumps. Building on top of wet lumps will cause the building to sag, so cob building is very time intensive. Cob walls also cannot be built very high, but when completed, cob walls, like all of the earthen methods on this page, provide thermal mass that cools homes in the summer and warms them in the winter. ¬


Insulated wood chip-cement wall


Made with nothing but 85% mineralized wood and 15% cement, this green building system is among the most environment-friendly and healthy building materials available. The wall form blocks are manufactured in 24″-long modular units to aid architects and designers. They are designed to be under 30 pounds to aid installers. Simply stack the wall forms on top of one another without mortar. The interlocking tongue-and-groove end design keeps the wall forms in place. Rebar is set both horizontally and vertically within the stacked forms prior to filling the cores with concrete. This creates a “post and beam” grid effect, which makes the wall exceptionally strong.


Card board interior


The installation is composed entirely of re-purposed packing cartons, and was constructed around the space’s existing furniture to create a seamless, streamlined effect.


Organic materials used in buildings


Organic materials such as wood, straw, bamboo, cellulose insulation, natural paints and oils or waxes could be used instead to create low energy buildings that are solid, safe and better for the environment. An organic building sustainability index has been created in order to help designers and builders choose more appropriate materials. The index charts the number of years before the total CO2 emissions of the building equals the CO2 stored in the building’s structure. Keep in mind that the total emissions of a building include those from heating, cooling and ventilating the building as well as the energy used to create the building materials themselves. With a little ingenuity and planning it is possible to create buildings with a very high sustainability index (like 300 years) so long as there is enough organic building material available and the building is designed for a long life span.


Shell roofs: Another type of green roof is depicted below. The shell roof functions similarly to a traditional green roof by absorbing and temporarily retaining excess water runoff. In addition, rather than importing traditional roofing materials from distant production sites, all of the mussel shells are collected from a local fishery.


Straw Insulation: This innovative and effective design reflects a growing demand for eco-friendly construction materials around the globe. This rather roomy greenhouse is constructed using a wooden frame, with plastic drinks bottles threaded together with bamboo canes and secured in place, top and bottom.




However, even then it’s important to correctly dispose of certain items, as failure to do so can seriously harm the environment. This includes things like CFL light bulbs, lithium-ion batteries, electronic equipment and paints.


Some examples of green building materials:

  • Wood Materials

While planning the construction of your home or building, there are many green materials from wall studs to flooring:

Bamboo flooring – Bamboo takes three years to mature as opposed to the 50-100 years of other trees like maple and oak used for hardwood flooring. This makes it an environmentally sound and environmentally sustainable flooring choice.

Cork flooring – Cork is harvested from the bark of the tree, so the tree itself is not cut down and the bark takes about three years to regrow, so it’s definitely an environmentally friendly choice. Cork is also naturally hypoallergenic and ant-microbial.


Reclaimed wood – This wood is salvaged from demolished buildings and reused.


Linoleum – Eco-friendly linoleum flooring is made from items like linseed oil, jute and flax. Another benefit to linoleum flooring is they don’t release toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) into the air like vinyl tiles do.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) wood – Buying raw building materials like wall studs and framing purchased from certified by the FSC. FSC certified manufacturers must adhere to sustainable forestry practices which include, among other standards and practices, preserving the natural habitat and prohibiting the use of hazardous pesticides.





Eco-friendly construction can not only help to create a better outdoor environment, it can also help to build a healthier indoor environment. Conventional building materials and methods have been linked to a wide range of health problems. Chemical pollutants from paints, solvents, plastics and composite timbers, along with biological pollutants such as dust mites and moulds are known to cause symptoms such as asthma, headaches, depression, eczema, palpitations and chronic fatigue syndrome. Green buildings eliminate these problems through good ventilation design, breathable walls, and the use of natural, non-toxic products and materials.

There are many good reasons why we should use eco-friendly construction methods and materials. It can improve the health of our planet, and the health of our own lives. It also supports local business and helps strengthen the local economy, which in turn helps to build our communities into vibrant, prosperous and desirable places to live.



Web links


  • https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/biodegradable
  • www.dictionary.com/browse/eco-friendly
  • https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/environment
  • https://whatsyourimpact.org/global-warming
  • https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/indigenous https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/sustainability