Radiant in Residential

Green materials to build your home with

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 12:31

There exists no shortage of innovative homes on the market. Houses can, and have been, constructed from a wide array of unconventional materials, from recycled pizza boxes to refurbished tin cans. Some products may be more suitable for practical home improvements than others, however. Homeowners looking to renovate or rebuild sections of their homes from green, sustainable materials that are both unique and useful are in luck as numerous residents from around the globe have structured their buildings from these items. These homes have been constructed with energy efficiency in mind as designers aim to decrease their carbon footprint, including amenities in these homes such as increased reliance on solar energy panels, use of natural light within the area and radiant heat flooring.


As part of their entry for the 2013 Solar Decathlon competition, the Santa Clara team constructed plans for a home that primarily uses bamboo as its building material. In an attempt to prove that sustainable living is easily achievable for home designers in this day and age, the team used only environmentally friendly items, including countertops made from a combination of 94 percent water and recycled glass, repurposed tiles for the floors and bamboo to structure the walls, floor and ceiling. While bamboo is known to be a highly ecofriendly material, the team is the first to construct an entire home from it. The roof has also been waterproofed and implemented with solar panels, ensuring that no unwanted elements enter or leave the house.  


The Cocoon, or a tiny, multistory shelter designed by a student at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, is a small piece of fabric that features a sleeping area, a set of stairs, a bathing area and a dining spot. In what can best be described as a large sleeping bag with pouches, the Cocoon is meant for areas in which temporary shelter may be sought, such as a disaster relief spot or refugee camp. The student remarked that the home would not be ideal for long-term occupancy, but could provide private lodging for guests or cheap comfort for those who cannot afford shelter.


Benjamin Garcia-Saxe, an architect living in Costa Rica, constructed a home built on stilts to save on energy costs, including creating soil-retention walls to surround the property. Additionally, by placing his home several feet above ground, the property receives more natural light and offers pristine views.