The selection of materials for your home is one of the most important decisions you will have to make with regards to both maximising energy efficiency and minimising your environmental impact.

How do materials add to energy efficiency?

Appropriate building materials are part of good home design. In our temperate climate the appropriate use of dense materials such as brick, concrete and stone, is used to store the sun’s heat on winter days and release it back into the home at night. These heavy materials are also used to absorb excess heat during the day in summer, then at night using the cooling breeze to remove this heat (the correct amount and location of these heavy materials is important). Further north, towards the tropics, lightweight materials may be more appropriate as they cool more quickly.

How do I reduce the environmental impact of building my home through the materials I select?

The cumulative effect of seemingly small, local impacts over the lifecycle of a material can have substantial or even catastrophic consequences on a global scale. Careful analysis and selection of materials and the way they are combined can yield significant improvements in the comfort, cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency of your home whilst minimising the environmental impact of building your home.

Choosing “environmentally preferred materials” can be a complex task. There are many impacts to consider. To carry out your own analysis you can use EcoSpecifier, a detailed guide to choosing the best materials with the lowest lifecycle impact. Alternatively you can ask your designer, architect or builder to make recommendations. If they have credentials in designing and building passive solar homes they should be able to recommend some low impact, locally available materials.

If you are interested in materials, download the materials information sheet