New Building and Construction Materials: Back to the Future

Oct 8, 2015 4:00 PM ET

New Building and Construction Materials: Back to the Future

Europe’s construction industry is looking at new building and construction materials, with the aim to cut carbon emissions and reduce energy consumption. The European ISOBIO project is researching sustainable materials to define the most effective materials, focus production on high-quality and credible insulation, and reduce overall costs. These goals have led ISOBIO to study greener alternatives, bio-based materials such as plant waste, straw, clay, and grasses—ironically, some of the oldest building materials known to human history.

The early projections are promising. Biomass materials offer 20 percent better insulation than traditional ones. And data shows that by reducing the energy and CO2 emissions needed to create and transport construction materials, the total “embodied energy” across the whole lifestyle of a building could be cut by up to 50 percent. There are several issues still to be resolved, from the higher costs of these niche materials to safety, reliability, and durability. But the idea is so promising that more than 60 companies in Europe are now producing more than 230 bio-based insulation products.

I’m John Howell for 3BL Media.



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