Tadelakt is a traditional maroquin calk plastering, treated with a special stone to make it dense and water resistant. The plaster is typically colored with natural pigment. The surface looks and feels smooth and soft. Suitable for wet rooms and showers. + alternative to tiles in wet areas, free shapes and curves possible, non-flammable
- time-consuming manual work


Clay is extremely fine-grained sand. Available worldwide and as a regional product. It usually contains no additives. Can be used for wall plaster, floors and solid walls. Clay absorbs a certain amount of moisture which has a positive effect on the indoor climate. Works very good in combination with wood or other natural materials as straw or reed.
+ cheap, regional, healthy indoor climate, CO2 neutral, non-flammable
- limited extent in wet rooms


Reed is a building material that has almost been forgotten. It can be used as insulation, panel, reinforcement, sound insulation-acoustic panel. Renewable material that binds Co2. Due to a high silicate content, it is moisture-resistant. Compostable.
+ can be regional (grows all over Europe), healthy indoor climate, CO2 neutral
- can rot if installed incorrectly (Local reed is not yet available in quantities in Finland. Limited in Germany. Currently, reed is mainly imported)


Concrete has been found in ancient ruins and is in general a useful material. It comes, however, with certain costs: The worldwide use of concrete is increasing so that the sand that is required for its production becomes more scarce. Also, cement production is responsible for 4-8% of worldwide CO2 emission. If the cement industry was a country, it would rank third in terms of CO2 emissions, behind China and the USA. Recycling is not solved yet. Its use should be reduced to components where an alternative material makes little sense.
+ pressure-resistant - in combination with steel very stable material, countless design possibilities
- high energy consumption in cement production, concrete doesn't last forever either, not recyclable

Co2-reduced concrete

CO2 reduced concrete is a more climate-friendly variant when concrete is needed for a construction project. Some manufacturers have optimized their production, use other additives and actively offset Co2.
+ less Co2 emission and compensation promised!
- none - if concrete is used the most climate friendly version should be used


Straw is a renewable building material. Straws grow back several times a year within a few months. Like wood, straw is Co2 neutral. It has good insulating properties.
+ renewable and Co2 neutral
- Not suitable for larger (apartment) houses


Natural gypsum is an odorless and non-toxic mineral that has been used as a building material for centuries. Nowadays industrial gypsum is mainly used as a waste product from the coal industry. If gypsum plaster or panels are used, one should pay attention to the additives and panel support materials. Under certain circumstances, mold is more likely to occur in rooms with gypsum components.
+ easy to install, non-flammable (Possibility to recycle- still needs to be improved)
- natural gypsum deposits will not cover the demand. Industrial gypsum is produced in an energy-intensive manner

Wood CLT or X-Lam

Cross Laminated Timber (CLT or X-Lam) consists of at least three layers of wood glued together. This structure creates a solid element that is comparable to a brick or concrete wall. The wood product does not crack like solid wood. It retains the insulating properties of wood. Can be used as walls, floors and ceilings/ roofs.
+ Co2 storage, renewable, efficient solid construction,high pre-production possible
- industrial pre-production and transport routes should be taken into account


Wood is a material that, if build and treated correctly lasts forever and is also suitable for large constructions. The natural product wood requires knowledge and has been replaced by steel and concrete structures. Wood will play an important role in sustainable construction. In combination with steel connections and industrial prefabrication the traditional material becomes high-tech.
+ Co2 storage, renewable
- can burn. But it burns predictably.

Wood Products

Each type of wood has specific properties. Oak for instance, is a hardwood and can even be built in water, pine is softer but grows less demanding. In addition to solid wood and glued laminated timber, there are countless wood composite materials and treatment processes for different areas of application. Veneer panels, chipboard and fiber materials...
+ Co2 storage, renewable, often regional
- none if the right material is chosen and installed correctly

Wood Fiber

Wood fiber is the waste product of the sawmills and well suited as insulation material. Sawdust or further processed as plates. U-value: 0,38-0,45W/mK
+ Co2 storage, renewable, often regional, storage capacity against summer heat
- the lower U-value compared to other insulation requires more space. Not for earth touching components


Cellulose is insulation from old newspapers, treated with mineral salt to improve mold resistance and flammability properties for the purposes of the structure. U-value: 0,38-0,40W/mK
+ wood based, renewable, often regional, storage capacity against summer heat, soundproofing
- the lower U-value compared to other insulation requires more space. Not for earth touching components

Foam Glass

Foamglass is an insulation from recycled glass. Available as granules in different grain sizes or as a plate U-value: 0,36-0,50W/mK
+ mineral, recycling glass. Very good pressure properties. Usable for earth touching components (perimeter insulation) or beneath heavy constructions
- manufacturing is energy intensive

Perimeter insulation

Permimeter, or plastic-based insulation (polystyrol such as EPS, PIR, PUR)is considered to be unsuitable for various reasons. Wood fiber, cellulose or mineral wool insulation cannot be used for components in contact with the ground. If foam glass is not used, perimeter insulation made of XPS or another chemical composition must be used at this point. U-value: 0,25-0,45W/mK
+ pressure and moisture properties - if used, the manufacture and additives should be checked very closely. Development continues and a chemical product is not fundamentally unsuitable or harmful to the environment
- manufacturing is energy intensive, based on petrol, not recyclable, fire retardants may partially evaporate.

Mineral Wool

Mineral wool consists of raw materials such as quartz sand, lime, soda iron ore and waste glass are melted down at up to 1600 degrees. The melt is spun into fibers. The better the U-value, the more energy-intensive the production process. Therefore, in the overall energy balance, it sometimes makes no sense to install wool that is mathematically better insulating. U-value: 0,25-0,45W/mK
+ based on minerals, fire resistant
- manufacturing is energy intensive, not recyclable


Bricks are a beautiful and versatile natural clay material with a very long lifespan. An experienced bricklayer can create beautiful, weather-resistant facades. There are few alternatives as a building material for chimneys. The production is very energy-intensive. That's why it's a pity when the tiles end up on the rubble during demolition. Recycling is possible but currently rarely used.
+ local, fire resistant
- manufacturing is energy intensive


Stucco plaster is more about the processing technique than the material. The plaster is applied in several layers and polished, resulting in a very smooth and, if desired, shiny surface. Clay, lime or gypsum are used by various manufacturers as a material basis. Depending on the processing, stucco can also be used for damp rooms and is therefore an alternative to tiles.
+ alternative to tiles in wet areas
- time-consuming manual work

Natural Stone Wall

Natural stone walls have, like many of the materials presented here, have gone out of fashion. However,the advantages are obvious: no o2 is produed dring production and the stones are proven to be load-bearing. + local, no footprint (if local!)
- natural material, no two stones are alike

Sanitary ceramics

Sanitary ceramics and tiles used in bath- and other wet rooms have just a few alternatives. However, these cannot currently be recycled. A few suppliers offer sinks and toilets made from recycled composite material. At this point, sustainability can only be achieved through a long service life of the material and to use renewable energy in the manufacturing process.
+ water-resistant, especially important in bathrooms
- manufacturing is energy intensive, not recyclable


Windows are an important design element for the building and bring light and air into the room. The frame material typically consists of wood, aluminum, plastic or a combination. Unfortunately, old windows and frames are often replaced. A new element is not necessarily much better for reasons of cost, regulatory reasons, but also sustainability and energy saving. When renovating, it should always be considered to keep the element, while new construction should pay attention to quality. Regular maintenance of wooden window frames is advisable.
+ indispensable, choice of material depends on the building project
- large window areas give off energy, in summer the rooms heat up considerably without sun protection


Moss was used as insulation and between the logs as a seal. In the space between two window frames, the moss has a sealing and moisture-regulating effect.
+ sealing, moisture-regulating, air purifying filter
- does not insulate as good as other natural materials


The U-value describes the thermal conductivity of a component. It describes how much thermal energy the component lets through. In other words: The lower the U-value, the better for thermal insulation.

Architectural bionics

Building based to nature`s model. Mushrooms are continuously researched and being developed as an insulation and acoustic panel material. The cell structures of trees can also serve as models, such as honeycombs. A look back at how our ancestors built brings examples of adapted contemporary solutions with new research and technologies.

Linseed Oil

Natural linseed oil is used as a binder in paints. Natural pigment provides the colour. The tiny molecules penetrate into the cells of the wood, the small cavities in the plaster or the surface of metal. Thus, it protects the surfaces from weathering. Cloths soaked with linseed oil, e.g. cleaning rags can inflame. Therefore, they should be moistened and/or left to air dry not in a bin!
+ natural wood care, smells pleasant and does not emit any toxic gases during processing or later
- drying dependent on temperature and ventilation. Not applicable if colder than 5 degrees

Clay Paint

Clay paints are finely ground clay powders. In addition, they can contain vegetable starch, cellulose fibers or vegetable protein, chalk and, depending on the color, various earth and mineral pigments. The clay it contains acts like a filter and sifts bad smells and pollutants out of the air. The substrate must be is checked. In principle, clay paint adheres to all mineral and absorbent surfaces. For example, wallpaper, plaster, concrete or wood. Uncomplicated processing available in countless colors.
+ natural ingredients, easy to apply, does not emit any toxic gases during processing or later
- Not water-repellent, conditionally wipeable



Sustainable building solutions, preserving the existing structure and discovering natural long-lasting materials to build with.


At the beginning of a new build or a renovation there are plenty of unknown. It is helpful to talk to experts about the ideas and plan what the next steps are.