Monday, October 10, 2011

What is Natural Building?

The construction industry as a whole is the largest contributor of landfill waste, contributing 40% of the total waste each year.  New home construction comes at a tremendous expense to the planet. Building 1.7 million homes with traditional wood, steel and concrete frames consumes the same amount of energy as heating and cooling 10 million houses each year. The environmental costs stem largely from the manufacture of materials. Using natural materials that require minimal processing and refining substantially reduces environmental impacts.­

Natural building, not to be confused with ‘Green Building’ and sometimes referred to as ‘Alternative Building Methods,’ offers a way to construct a home (as well as a multitude of other items) with renewable, naturally occurring and locally available materials with a low-embodied energy, as opposed to industrial or man-made products. Many of these materials are available throughout the world and are often recycled or salvaged materials, so the costs and pollution associated with the transportation of these materials across the country falls. As a bonus, many Natural Building methods are energy efficient, inexpensive and easy to build with little technical construction knowledge. Natural building relies on human labor vs. technology, which encourages community and personal involvement during the building process.  As a result, participants gain knowledge through direct experience, participate in their community, and leave feeling empowered by designing and creating with their own two hands.  Natural Building is available to everyone, regardless of income or credit status.

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