Coal, Cow Barns and Engine Blocks: The Latest in Home Design

Eilene Zimmerman, Special to
Source: Flor

For every 2,000 square feet of house built in the U.S. about 8,000 pounds of debris is created. The wasteful reality of the residential construction market, though, is being countered by a trend toward using recycled materials.

From Filipino fishers' nets to castoffs from coal power plants, the materials used to design your floor, roof, walls, bathtub and kitchen countertop are coming from increasingly diverse and surprising sources.

Nearly half the content in the Flor line of modular carpet tiles made by Interface in Atlanta is recycled material and all of its new products contain 100 percent recycled nylon yarns. The recycled nylon is purchased from Aquafil, a European-based producer of carpet fiber with a U.S. headquarters in Cartersville, Ga. Interface also recently piloted a program with Aquafil and the Zoological Society of London to recycle fishing nets from coastal villages in the Philippines.

"We involved partners outside the carpet business," said Chip DeGrace, executive creative director at the company, adding, "If you think broadly about design, you get a lot of creative partners around the table." Interface also implemented a technology it developed in 2007 to separate the carpet's backing from its face and reuse both components in new products.

(Read More: Best Convertible Designs of All Time)

Thirty-five percent of the drywall National Gypsum sells now is made with synthetic gypsum—a byproduct of coal-fired power plants.

National Gypsum has built manufacturing facilities right next to power plants in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. It's a money-saver for the company and fits in with a corporate initiative to lessen its environmental footprint, said Jay Watt, marketing director for the company.