To understand sustainable materials in construction, we first need to understand embodied carbon. All the greenhouse gas emissions produced throughout the entire construction process are embodied carbon. This includes everything from manufacturing to transportation to putting it all together. 

This process is often overlooked, considering many people base their construction judgments on how it affects their life and less on how it affects the environment. Why should they? It’s simple, anything that affects the environment inevitably affects humans. 

According to the World Green Building Council, embodied carbon is important to account for as it contributes as much as 11% of material and construction carbon emissions. Cutting these emissions would contribute to efforts of staying below 1.5 °C and is another way for people to combat the climate crisis. 

3 Ways to Build with More Sustainable Materials in Construction

A man working in a reclaimed lumber yard workshop. Holding tools and sanding knotted and uneven piece of wood.

1. Reuse Materials & Rehabilitation

The first opportunity to build with sustainable materials in construction is simple: reuse old material that is still of good quality. Salvaged materials have a smaller impact on the carbon output, saving money and transportation and processing emissions. High-recycled content materials like steel and other metals have a much lower carbon footprint than one sourced brand new.

Better yet, reusing entire buildings is possible with renovation projects. There are countless opportunities for architects to improve underperforming buildings into sustainable structures. 

2. Build for Deconstruction

Often buildings feel permanent, and demolition typically happens at the end of the building’s lifespan. Deconstruction, however, is a more sustainable option. 

So, what is deconstruction? 

When a structure is dismantled and selected materials are diverted from wastelands to be reused, that is deconstruction. Used building materials are harvested and incorporated into new construction by this process.

There are even salvage marketplaces where locals can find used materials and give them a new life, think salvaging old brick to add to the fireplace or repurposing old wood into a new bookshelf. 

Places like The Repurpose Project is a community-based effort that centers on diverting materials from the landfill and redirecting them to the people.  

Eco architecture. Green cafe with hydroponic plants on the facade.

3. Do Many Things at Once to use Sustainable Materials in Construction

Consider incorporating multiple sustainable habits if you’re a B-Corp or Tripple Bottom Line Company in any field but especially in real estate development. 

Take Salt Palm Development for example. This B-Corp’s mission is “To design and construct top-caliber sustainable developments which enhance quality-of-life for both residents and neighbors.” 

This company practices sustainability through:

  • Sourcing core materials from independent local suppliers of their operation
  • Advocating for the use of solar energy and being environmentally responsible
  • Partnering with environmental protection non-profits

There are also additives from companies like Carbon Limit that make concrete absorb and retain more CO2. Early experiments show that their product reduces the carbon footprint by about 48% over standard cement.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

More projects can further environmentally supportive practices through banking with a green bank like Climate First Bank. This bank is stationed in Florida and takes pride in providing personal and commercial services while highlighting sustainability.

Climate First Bank specializes in green loans that could go towards solar and renewable energy installations or even buying certified carbon offsets. Investing with banks that invest in green initiatives can make all the difference.

Have Any More Questions?

Looking for more ways to incorporate sustainable practices into your B-Corp? Don’t hesitate to check out Creative Chi’s resource hub or reach out at for more information!