Unbeknown to many, cork is something of a dark horse when it comes to the environment—a model of a sustainable industry and building material. By its very nature, cork is both recyclable and renewable, as it is the only tree that regenerates its bark, while harvesting that bark causes the tree no harm. Cork has been sneaking its way into our buildings for many years now; due to its hard-wearing properties it can be found, for example, in the checkerboard flooring of the Library of Congress. Even NASA has been wise to cork's light weight and insulation capacity, using it as an insulator for their space shuttles. Only recently have we seen a growing curiosity over cork as an external cladding material for buildings. Despite what many assume, cork is extremely waterproof (why else would we trust it as a stopper for our precious wine), resistant to abrasion, and acts as a fire retardant and an acoustic insulator. Its also has desirable aesthetic qualities, giving buildings mottled earthy tones and natural patterning.
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