At Show Ready, we’re committed to using efficient, environmentally friendly materials to build our projects. According to the IEA (International Energy Agency), about 11% of global carbon emissions come from the manufacturing of building materials like cement and steel. The construction industry needs to do more to minimize its environmental impact, but fortunately, eco-friendly building materials are already here.
When we design a trade show exhibit or event booth, a lot of factors go into our choice of materials, such as durability and how well the materials’ look matches with the theme. But low cost and low environmental impact are important factors as well.
Here are some of the top eco-friendly building materials that we use in our trade.
There’s a misconception that bamboo is a type of wood that comes from trees, but it’s actually a type of grass. However, bamboo has virtually the same strength-to-weight ratio as true wood and can be used not just for decoration, but for structural elements like pillars and walls.
Bamboo’s true eco-friendly edge is how fast it grows and how much of the plant can be used for construction. Unlike hardwoods that take decades to reach maturity, bamboo grows to its full height in only 3-5 years. With a normal tree, the branches must be shaved off the trunk to make it suitable for use in construction, which produces a lot of wood waste. But with bamboo, the entire stem can be used with very little waste.
Recycled Wood aka Mass Timber
One of the hottest new trends in construction is recycled wood, one type of which is mass timber. Wood, obviously, was a primary building material for thousands of years in the premodern era. For decades, steel and concrete took its place as the construction industry’s structural materials of choice. But now, thanks to technological advances, wood is making a comeback.
Mass timber is essentially a block of wood shavings fused together. Until recently, small waste pieces of wood would simply have to be thrown out. But now, using new gluing and kiln-firing techniques, they can be assembled into sheets whose hardness and durability rivals that of steel and concrete.
Recycled wood is an incredibly versatile material that can be shaped at will and used for both decoration and structural elements. Its eco-friendly advantage is that, by reusing old pieces of wood, it saves trees from having to be cut down.
Steel is 100% recyclable. In fact, it’s the most recycled material in the world, with more steel recycled each year than paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum combined. Steel can come from old buildings and even old car frames and be reshaped to fit the needs of new projects.
This is especially important because the production of new steel is still very carbon-intensive. Though zero-carbon steel manufacturing techniques are being developed, they are still years away from being deployed on a mass scale. In the meantime, fossil fuels must be used to reach the superhot temperatures required in the steelmaking process. Steel production alone accounts for about 8% of global carbon emissions.
Using recycled steel greatly lowers the carbon footprint of a construction project. Recycled steel is just as strong and durable as new steel, making it an important eco-friendly building material.
Cork isn’t just useful for stopping wine bottles. It’s also great for producing flooring, wall paneling, and ceiling tiles.
Cork is one of the most environmentally friendly construction materials because it doesn’t require any trees to be cut down or carbon emissions to be released. It comes from the bark of the cork oak tree, found in Mediterranean countries like Portugal and Spain. The trees are stripped of their bark every nine years. The process doesn’t harm the trees, which live for about 300 years.
This unique material is impermeable to liquid (hence why it’s used as a wine stopper), buoyant, and fire-retardant. It can be fashioned into corkboard, which is used for insulation and, most visibly, bulletin boards.
Generally, the longer a material has been in use, the more sustainable and eco-friendly it is. The history of glass-making goes back at least 3,600 years to ancient Mesopotamia.
Glass is composed of sand, limestone, and other abundant, naturally occurring materials that are easily harvested. It can be reused indefinitely; glass bottles and panes can simply be rinsed to clean them, and old glass can be melted down and reforged into new items.
As the world is discovering that plastic is not really recyclable, it’s falling back on reliable glass. This ancient material is sustainable and can function as a beautiful design element in all sorts of custom trade show displays. Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways.
Contact Show Ready to learn how we can create a dazzling custom scenic display or trade show exhibit for your company using eco-friendly materials and cutting-edge construction techniques.