20 November 2008

Assessing the Sustainability of Natural Composite Materials

Overcoming Barriers to Renewable Construction Materials

The NetComposites and BRE are leading a new collaborative research project funded by the UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs through the renewable materials programme. The project will focus on assessing the environmental credentials of naturally derived construction materials.

The work will address the problem faced by the construction industry in that there is limited understanding of the environmental performance of these relatively new materials making like for like comparisons difficult.

The project will focus on environmental issues such as:

  • Raw material supply – including crop production and land-use
  • Energy requirements for primary and secondary processing
  • Durability of these naturally derived materials compared to conventional alternatives
  • End of life issues – including, recyclability, composting, recovery and re-use.

The project team, comprising experts from the construction sector and natural materials industry, will produce information, guidance and tools that are crucial for the environmental understanding of these materials and their comparison to conventional alternatives. This will enable companies throughout the sector to make well-informed decisions about the likely benefits of crop-based materials without the cost and time requirements of conducting detailed life-cycle impact studies. It will also allow the industry to deal with clients on a more informed basis, further stimulating the growth of materials derived from crops.

Further Information

Source: Biocompass, 2008-11.


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