Building Houses: Lessons from the Three Little Pigs

As sustainability becomes more important to us, so is “going green”, and that applies even when it comes to building houses.

With the green movement gaining traction across the world, more people will use green building materials — those that are recyclable, from renewable sources, and have little effect on the environment.

Straw houses that withstand wind

Remember the three little pigs and their houses? The brick house may have been the strongest then, but with the technology we have now, even the straw and wood houses could save the trio.

People are taking a leaf — or straw — out of that first little pig’s book, and are using straw bales in the construction of houses. Leftovers of grain harvesting, straw is readily available and well-suited as material for walls.

Plastered on both sides with lime, cement and clay, straw-bale walls are airtight and waterproof, so the straw within remains dry and strong. In fact, they can withstand tornado- and hurricane-force winds — the big bad wolf would never be a match for straw houses now!

Leveraging bamboo strength

People are also taking a stick out of the second little pig’s book; they’re building houses with bamboo. Bamboo can take strong tensile forces and is commonly used for scaffolding, flooring, and to reinforce building structures.

It’s also one of the fastest growing plants in the world — a rapidly renewable source. The wolf can huff and puff all he wants, the bamboo house will stand strong.

Not brick, but earth

Bricks are made of baked clay and are easily recyclable, but a major concern has long been the vast amount of carbon produced in firing (or baking) them.

Rammed earth makes for better houses (than even the third pig’s house), firstly because it does not need to be fired; the earth is compressed — while damp — into the wall frame during construction itself. As the earth dries over time, the compression strength increases, making the wall stronger than it was before. Also, being vapour permeable, the earth improves indoor air quality and regulates humidity levels.

Just as homeowners and construction firms are looking for natural, sustainable materials that offer strength and additional benefits, we believe that sustainable investing is critical to delivering quality long-term investment outcomes. Learn more about Eastspring Investments at