Sustainable building materials help lighten the footprint of any construction project.

Both residential and commercial developments benefit from using these environmental choices. Indeed, sustainable building materials are not only eco-friendly, but they are wallet friendly also: they help reduce the operating costs of a building by lowering energy needs and using water more efficiently.

Here are seven examples of sustainable building materials:

Eco-Trend Collagen indoor paint

This product, which touts itself as 'the most eco-friendly paint available in the market,' is made with collagen from an egg's inner membrane as its main ingredient.

It's called an 'odorless paint,' and therefore considered less harmful to the human health. There are no organic solvents, VOCs, environmental hormones or heavy metals contained in Eco-Trend Collagen paint. It's also anti-fungus and antibiotic so it helps prevent the spread of germs.

DryPly plywood

This plywood product from Georgia-Pacific is made from wood certified through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, an independent third-party organization that audits sustainable forestry programs throughout the world.

According to Georgia-Pacific, this plywood reduces water absorption by 40 percent thanks to a water-resistant coating on the wood. It is also considered 'Green Approved' by the NAHB Research Center.

InSpire Wall

This panel material is attached to the outer wall of a building and uses solar energy to pre-heat outdoor air before pushing it inside to help reduce heating costs and help with ventilation.

The outdoor air actually gets trapped in a special 'cavity' built into the panel and enters the building through conventional ductwork.

According to the manufacturer, yearly heating costs of a building can be reduced by $3 to $5 per square foot of panel.

ProRoc Moisture Resistant Gypsum Board

This sustainable building material is ideal for walls in bathrooms and other spaces where a high moisture level is expected. It has no reportable volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and it is made with 100 percent recycled moisture-resistant paper. It does not absorb moisture as readily as standard gypsum board and is available with additional built-in mold protection.

Plyboo bamboo flooring and plywood

Sustainable building materials: PlybooSmith & Fong, based in San Francisco, manufacture PlyBoo, a bamboo plywood and bamboo flooring material.

According to the company, the flooring, plywood and veneer products come from 'Maso bamboo harvested from a forest that requires no irrigation, fertilizers or pesticides.' Only the five-year growth, which account for about 20 percent of the plantation's bamboo, is cut each year. This practice helps ensure that 'the forest canopy remains intact and the ecosystem is not disturbed,' the company said.

The company is also notable for being the first to obtain third-party sustainability certification for its bamboo products.

Separett Villa waterless toilet

Waterless toiletThis one is for those people who really, really want to conserve water.

The toilet, which retails for about $989, is a 'urine-separating' device that uses no water and stores the solid waste for later use, presumably as garden fertilizer. According to the company website, the waste never gives off an odor because the urine and feces never mix. A small amount of odor may be present when and shortly after it is used, however.

When you look down into the toilet, you can see one hole in the front for the urine and one hole in the back for the feces. The feces hold is covered with a lid that slides away when someone sits on the toilet.

The urine can be carried away in a pipe to a regular wastewater pipe or an outdoor tank or a gravel filled pit outside. The feces, according to the company, can be composted and used in a garden after six months or so.

Serious Windows

The R-value of any material is a measure of its ability to resist heat. It's often shorthand for how well any material insulates a structure.

Typically, windows have an R-value of 1 to 3. By comparison, Serious Windows weigh in with an R-value between 5 and 11. That's a difference sure to lead to energy savings. In fact, the company states on its website that the 'full-frame R-value SeriousWindows reduce heating and cooling energy costs by 50 percent.'

Got more ideas for sustainable building materials? Leave them in the comments below.

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