Buildings account for 39% of all carbon emissions in the world, which includes 11% just from the materials and construction processes that go into building the structures to begin with. Concrete is a bête noire for environmentalists, but it is just one of many typical building materials that must progressively be replaced by sustainable alternatives to meet zero-carbon goals.
Some of the most interesting innovations in this sector are found in the transformation of agricultural and industrial waste into ecological raw building materials.
Tradical Hemcrete developed by the international Lhoist Group creates a thermal walling material made from hemp, lime and water. The company has 14 plants in France and has worked for more than 20 years in Europe, where hemp growing is not forbidden.
● Materials made from hemp are carbon negative, as hemp consumes more CO2 while growing than released during the production.
● Superior thermal and hygrothermal properties, especially suitable for reconstruction of aging buildings.
● 100% recyclable, can be used for insulation, wall construction to flooring.
Biohm is a London-based startup focused on finding new materials that can completely replace hazardous concrete and plastics used in construction. “Orb”, a material made out of food or agricultural waste like cocoa husks, dried orange peel, ground blue pea flowers, and mycelium insulation, is obtained by feeding waste to the root system of mushrooms.
● Mycelium insulation outperforms almost everything on the market, except of polystyrene, which has the downside of being highly flammable.
● Mycelium can break down petrochemicals and other substances into harmless hydrocarbons, so the insulation material can be grown from toxic byproducts.
● Waste comes straight from industry: orange peels collected from the staff canteen of a tech giant and the grass cuttings collected from a London airport.
DB Group is a Cambridge-based company with a long history of providing sand for cement and fuse manufacturing. In 2015, the company introduced a revolutionary material: Cemfree, a low-carbon concrete.
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