11 exterior materials and finishes for sustainable homes

We've created a list of materials for eco-conscious homeowners.
Image credit: Brickworks

Building a sustainable house can be a challenge for many homeowners. It is clear that you want an energy-efficient home that runs low, but how exactly are you going to do that? Where are you going to start? What are the green construction methods and green building materials to use?

If you are building a new or renovating a sustainable house, look no further. Use this guide to get started with your project! 

Start with the building materials and products for green home exterior renovations. Knowing these products, you'll have an idea of what you want and what your home is going to look like. We’ll focus on four product categories: façade, paint, windows, and roofing

Check them out!

Sustainable house façades

Fibre cement

Fibre-cement is a baked mixture of sand, wood pulp, cement, and cellulose fibres. It is one of the most popular green building materials used for the facades of many Australian homes.  

  • Long-lasting and durable
  • Comes in a wide variety of styles, sizes, shapes, and colours
  • Doesn’t fade 
  • Suits a wide range of architectural styles

James Hardie is the country's household name when it comes to fibre-cement siding. Take a look at how their product changed the kerb appeal of this home:

sustainable house renovation
Image credit: James Hardie

Masonry: brick & stone

To improve energy-efficiency, give your home a clay brick or stone siding. There are so many things to love about these products: 

  • Can last for centuries
  • Recyclable
  • Biodegradable
  • Easy to source

Brickworks is one of Australia's well-known companies when it comes to masonry products. Check out their brands Australbricks and GB Masonry:

sustainable house
Image credit: Australbricks
breeze blocks for sustainable homes
Image credit: GB Masonry

Reclaimed timber

Using high-quality reclaimed wood or lumber is better than using other non-renewable materials for your home's façade. No new trees were cut, thus making it one of the most sustainable building methods at the moment. 

Ironwood is a known supplier of reclaimed and recycled  Australian hardwood timbers. They use “Yakisugi”, Japan's traditional method of preserving wood. They use fire to make the timber more durable and resistant to termites.

recycled timber house
reclaimed timber
Image credit: Ironwood

Hardwood fibreboard cladding

Another sustainable and green building material is timber weatherboards. 

Weathertex is one of the country’s most trusted brands of timber weatherboards. Their products are for green building applications.

  • 100% natural; made from 97% natural timber and 3% natural wax.
  • Termite resistant
  • No chemical additives (zero silicas, artificial glues, resins, or formaldehydes)
coastal sustainable house
Image credit: Weathertex


Metal is also a sustainable and low-maintenance building material. 

If you are on the hunt for metal sidings that can handle the sun, wind, rain, snows, and storms, check out COLORBOND. COLORBOND steel cladding creates weather-tight and secure building envelopes. It is durable and 100% recyclable. 

colorbond sustainable house
Image credit: COLORBOND & Glow Design Group


Stucco is a natural siding material made from cement, water, lime, and sand. It is the top choice for many homeowners across the country. It is also an excellent insulator, so it can help reduce the use of artificial cooling and heating.

sustainable house stucco
Image credit: Tash McCammon / Sans-Arc Studio

Sustainable roofing

Solar roof tiles 

Some exterior home renovations involve roof replacement. This is the perfect opportunity to install your solar roof tile system and battery. More and more Australians nowadays want to live in homes that run using solar power

Bristile Solar helps homeowners cut their utility bills through solar power. Their solar roof system uses solar tiles that are not as bulky as traditional solar panels.

solar roof tiles
Image credit: Bristile Roofing

Green roof

Green roofs, when designed and built right, reduce air-conditioning and heating. These provide an extra layer of insulation and absorb the sun's intense heat. 

sustainable house green roof
Image credit: Nest Architects

Sustainable exterior paint

Low or zero VOC paint

For exterior applications, we recommend using low VOC acrylic paints. It is a good thing that almost all paint manufacturers and brands in the country have this option. 

Always read the label when you are shopping for paint. Low VOC paint usually contains 1-75g of VOC per litre. Darker paint colours often emit higher amounts of VOCs. 

Resene offers a wide range of low VOC and VOC free paint products. 

low VOC paint sustainable house
Image credit: Resene

Sustainable windows

Switchable glass

Replacing your home's windows with switchable glass makes it more energy-efficient. These windows brighten or dim depending on how much light you want to penetrate through them. These often have a switch to control and adjust the tint and opacity level.

Dimming glass

Smart electrochromic glass responds to the level of light. It changes from clear to opaque; it brightens and dims depending on the preset. It also comes with a wall panel for manual override.

Either of these window technologies can help you save 20-26% on your power bills.

sustainable house windows
Image credit: Majestic Glass AU

Building a sustainable house in 2021

The production and popularity of green building materials available boomed in recent years. Your options are not limited anymore! 

  • Reclaimed and recycled building materials that protect the environment and reduce waste
  • Natural materials that boost the insulation and thermal performance of exterior walls and ceilings
  • Technologies that harness solar power and make windows more energy-efficient

Sustainability should be a factor to consider on your next renovation or new build. It is more than building with less impact on the environment. It will improve the way we live and build communities.

Now that you have learnt about the different building materials that you can use to build a sustainable house, we hope you’ll make the best decision on what’s right for your project. If you are looking for a sustainable house design, you are going to need the help of a designer and a draftsman.

Superdraft’s platform helps you find and connect with the professionals you need. Get access when you sign up for free.

Start planning for free

Find more articles, guides and inspiration in the planning dashboard. Save them to your dream board, and start planning your dream space today.

You may also like

Join our design community

Forgot your username or password?

Download our '5 crucial things you must know before starting any build project' guide for free today

Simply fill in your details below and we’ll send a copy straight over to you

See how much you could save with a free, no-obligation quote today

Simply fill in your details below and we’ll be in touch to discuss your project

  • Drop files here or

Download The Free Guide Now

Fill in the below to get instant access: