Forget about a green design with a carbon neutral footprint; you can achieve a negative carbon footprint by using innovative building materials. Negative carbon footprints occur when the CO2 stored in building materials exceeds the CO used to manufacture them. So, what are these innovative building materials? Seaweed and wood!

Modern Seaweed House

The Modern Seaweed House, Vandkunsten architects. Source: Helene Høyer Mikkelsen / Realdania Byg via

Seaweed was a common building material in the Danish isles, and for good reason. It’s highly insular, in terms of both thermal control and acoustics, and it’s durable. In order to highlight a practical and eco-friendly building practice, Danish architecture firm Vandkuntzen, restored a mid-19th century home clad in nearly 100% seaweed. The effect is a charming, cottage-like exterior that blends completely with the environment. Traditionally, seaweed was used as a roofing material, similar to thatch roofs. Vandkuntzen took it one step further by developing knitted nets incorporated into the exterior walls and roof. The nets were used to wrap and secure pillows of eelgrass, found abundantly in the surrounding sea.

While much of the U.S. is lacking in seaweed availability, we do have ample straw resources. Straw bale construction is another green design tactic that has been resurrected in recent years. Using a combination of straw, derived from the crops of rye, barley, oat, wheat, etc., and stucco, homeowners can enjoy attractive homes made from two very natural mediums. These structures can last well into the next century when built correctly.

New Mexico Straw Bale

Straw Bale Home by Confluence Architecture. Source: via

Contact us at LS&A Architecture and Interiors to learn more about making old materials new to build carbon neutral structures.