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Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Asbestos


In the world of construction, the choices we make today have lasting impacts on our environment and health. One crucial decision when undertaking a renovation or new build is the selection of building materials you choose to utilise. Asbestos Removals Marlborough discovers the eco-friendly building materials that have replaced asbestos and their impressive qualities.


For decades, asbestos was a popular choice for building purposes. It’s incredible durability and fire-resistant properties made it an outstanding choice for many construction industries. However, as the health risks associated with asbestos exposure came to light, it led many in the industry to search for safer alternatives. Modern, asbestos-free building materials now prioritise safety and sustainability to encompass a safe approach to building and renovations. With many professional builders now opting for a much more greener approach to projects.


The Dangers of Asbestos


Before exploring some of the impressive building materials that have replaced asbestos it’s important to understand why asbestos fell out of favour around the world. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral known for its heat resistance and durability, making it a hero in the building sector for many decades. However, when many who worked closely in the industry started to become sick, alarm bells started to sound around the health implications of utilising such a material. It was then discovered that when asbestos-containing materials are disturbed or when they deteriorate over time, tiny, microscopic fibres are released into the air. Inhaling these fibres is detrimental to the health of those exposed, leading to serious health conditions, including lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. Asbestos-related diseases often develop years after exposure, making early prevention critical.


Today, asbestos is banned in construction and building materials. But due to the material being utilised for many years, countless homes around the world still contain this deadly fibre.


Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Asbestos


Fiber Cement: Fiber cement boards are a popular replacement for asbestos cement sheets. These boards consist of cement, sand, and cellulose fibres. They are sturdy, fire-resistant, and resistant to moisture and pests. Fibre cement is also an excellent insulator. Right on par with asbestos but 100% safe.


Cellulose Insulation: Commonly made from recycled newspaper and cardboard that is then treated with fire-retardant chemicals. Cellulose insulation is an eco-friendly choice for attics and walls as it's an effective insulator, offering both thermal and acoustic benefits. It also contains insect-resistant properties making it a popular environmentally friendly choice.


Recycled Metal: As the drive for more environmentally friendly options, many builders are now utilising recycled metal roofing and siding materials. They are energy-efficient, recyclable, and long-lasting, a win-win for the environment and the consumer. Using recycled metals reduces the demand for new mining and smelting processes, taking upcycling to a whole new level.


Bamboo: Used for centuries in Asia, bamboo is now appearing in construction around the world. A rapidly renewable resource that can be used for flooring, walls, and even structural elements. Bamboo is also being utilised on benchtops and furniture due to Its strong and lightweight properties. Plus, it looks amazing and regenerates quickly, making it an eco-conscious choice for many homes around the world.


Straw Bales: Straw bales are an unconventional but effective building material, particularly for insulation with many now installing this interesting feature in their homes. Being natural and renewable they offer excellent thermal properties. When correctly sealed and protected from moisture, they can be highly durable.


Recycled Glass: Recycled glass can be transformed into countertops, tiles, and even insulation materials. It's an attractive option that reduces landfill waste and conserves resources.


Wood and Timber: Sustainably sourced timber remains a classic choice for construction either for new homes or businesses. Certification systems such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) ensure responsible logging practices while minimising the environmental impact. Making wood and timber a sustainable choice for many builders around the globe.


Hempcrete: Even though there are only a handful of houses in New Zealand made from this material, hempcrete is slowly gaining popularity around the world. A mixture of hemp fibres, lime, and water, hempcrete is lightweight, insulating, and breathable. Hemp plants are also very fast-growing, making them a renewable material in budling.


Why Choose Eco-Friendly Alternatives For Your Next Project?


Sustainable building materials reduce the carbon footprint of construction projects. They help conserve natural resources, decrease energy consumption, and minimise waste. They are also energy efficient with most eco-friendly materials offering superior insulation properties. Meaning they can also help keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter – saving money on electricity.


Eco-friendly materials can also be very visually appealing and offer unique design possibilities. Bamboo flooring, recycled glass countertops, and metal roofs can enhance the aesthetics of a building and bring that WOW factor to your next project. Some eco-friendly options do come with a higher price tag, however, the long-term savings are impressive as they reduce maintenance and help with energy costs.


Choosing modern, eco-friendly alternatives is not just a matter of safety; it's a commitment to sustainability and a healthier future. These materials offer a way to construct buildings that are safe, energy-efficient, and environmentally responsible. As builders and consumers, we have the power to make choices that positively impact both our well-being and the planet.


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