TedX Talk

TedX Talk

BAFTA and Emmy-nominated director and producer Steve Barron describes his transition from film to farming – Steve has established Margent Farm to explore the ability of industrial hemp to revolutionise construction. Steve’s also a convert to Breathaplasta using it in his pre-fabricated hempcrete panel build at the farm and using some of his hemp particles in it in a unique collaboration. Listen out for our mention around 12:45 minutes 🙂

Follow the link below to YouTube…

What Hempen Homespuns Have We Swaggering Here? | Steve Barron | TEDxLondonBusinessSchool


Breathing new life into our listed buildings

Most people will have come across a listed building in their life, either through visiting one of many historically significant sites under the stewardship of the National Trust or similar conservation organisation or perhaps because they are fortunate enough to live in one. Owning a listed property brings with it great responsibility for the care, upkeep and protection of a piece of our national heritage.

The National Trust’s Kingston Lacy in Dorset – a fine example of a Grade I listed building

On a recent visit to clients on two sites in central England, Owen, our Breathaplasta Product Manager, saw first-hand the level of care and craftsmanship that’s required when breathing new life into our listed buildings and restoring them to their former glory.

Corley Manor, Warwickshire

In July 2018 Owen visited Corley Manor, a Grade II listed Georgian Manor house situated in the village of Corley, North Warwickshire. Owen was there to see Lime expert, Mark Holden from The Lime Plastering Company who’s been tasked with bringing the building back to life alongside a team of specialist heritage builders and tradesmen.

Corley Manor, Warwickshire

The Manor house dates back to 1823 where it was the former Rectory to Corley Parish Church. The building is packed with original Georgian features from high ceilings with original coving to large bay windows, hand decorated fireplaces and a grand sweeping staircase that leads up to a central landing and five large bedrooms. Not for the faint-hearted, Corley Manor needed total renovation and modernisation from top to bottom and this is where Adaptavate’s products came into their own.

As a pre-mixed blended lime plaster, Breathaplasta was the natural choice when it came to selecting appropriate materials for a sympathetic renovation. Breathaplasta offers all the qualities of a soft lime putty plaster, but with enhanced breathability and a workability and setting time more similar to gypsum based plasters. This allowed Mark and his team to breeze through the property and plaster entire rooms in just a single day, whereas with other, similar products it may have taken more like 2-3 days. Further speeding the process was Mark’s use of Adaptavate’s freshly launched Grip Coat plaster primer. Just like Breathaplasta, this high quality, ultra-breathable product saves time and labour on installation.

Mark from The Lime Plastering Company said;

“By priming the pre-existing areas of lime plaster and ceilings with Adaptavate’s grip coat, we were able to quickly and easily over skim a top coat of Breathaplasta. This not only helped restore a high level of breathability to the building fabric, but also enabled us to easily obtain the slightly more textured finish desired by the client”.

We will be following Mark’s project to its expected completion this Autumn.

If you have a project in the West Midlands and require an experienced lime plasterer, why not contact Mark by following this link to his website.















Heather Hall, Leicestershire

In July 2018, Owen also visited Heather Hall in Leicestershire. A large and impressive redbrick Grade II listed house dating back to the 18th century. Owen met with Nick Miller of NM Joinery Design Ltd. whose company took on the challenging project of bringing the building back from the brink.

Heather Hall, Leicestershire

Most likely built as a grand farmhouse, for most of its history it was owned by the Goode family before serving as a girls’ day and boarding school and finally as a riding stable in the mid and late 20th century. The Hall, stables and land were purchased in 2014 in an extremely poor state of repair after nearly a quarter of a century of neglect and so began the restoration and re-purposing of the hall as a single dwelling.




Nick is project managing a complicated restoration project that has not only brought the building back from the brink but has totally modernised and transformed the interior. The ‘hard-to-treat’ solid brick external walls have been successfully insulated by lining the interiors with Aerogel ultra-thin high-performance insulation boards. This provides maximum thermal performance and modern comfort without needing to make big alterations to the walls. This philosophy continues throughout the building as Breathaplasta is applied at 4-7mm on internal walls and partition boards to further improve thermal performance prior to the application of a fine lime putty top coat skim finish to blend with the natural tones of the stone features within the property.

Rob who’s contracted to complete all plastering on behalf of NM Joinery Design Ltd. said;

“I’m impressed with Breathaplasta and it’s a really nice lime plaster to work with. It’s quick and easy to apply and enables you to work fast – great for a large project such as this. I also like that the natural texture of the plaster gives it a ‘built-in’ grip for follow up coats. It allows you to build up multiple coats of Breathaplasta really nicely without the need for ‘scratching’ the base coat each time, which again saves time”.

We will be following Nick’s project over the next year as it moves to completion.

If you have an upcoming project in the Midlands, why not contact Nick by following this link to his website.


How to decorate Breathaplasta for a naturally healthy plaster finish

How do I decorate Breathaplasta?

This is one of the most common questions that we are asked on a weekly basis, so we thought we’d shine a light on it by answering your queries in a short blog post. Read on for paint-based enlightenment.

Smooth and textured Breathaplasta with natural paint finish.

Smooth and textured Breathaplasta with natural paint finish.

What textured finishes can I achieve with Breathaplasta.

Breathaplasta is a lime plaster with super-fine hemp particles within the mix and this allows for a whole range of finishes to be achieved. It can be troweled to a smooth finish with standard plastering techniques (see our ‘how-to’ videos on YouTube by clicking here) or the fine flecks of hemp can be brought to the surface by using a sponge float and a range of attractive textured finishes can be achieved.  It is a versatile product that can be conventional or creative to suit your design needs.

How do I preserve the natural finish?

The natural finish of Breathaplasta is very attractive as it dries to a pale cream colour and one of our most frequent questions is whether the plaster can be left undecorated. The simple answer is yes and we’ve numerous projects where the natural finish was most desired and the plaster left untreated. This can additionally save on the costs on painting the surface and ensures that it remains ultra-breathable (vapour diffusion-open). However, an untreated surface that’s not been sealed is prone to ‘off-dusting’ – a harmless fine chalky dust that’s generated over time, especially if the finished plaster is in areas of high wear and tear. To prevent this, we recommend the use of a clear lacquer or varnish for a slightly more gloss appearance or a clear, diluted plaster primer solution for a more matte finish. These will best preserve the natural colour and finish of Breathaplasta whilst sealing the surface. Speak to one of the team for product recommendations that are natural, non-toxic and ultra-breathable.

Breathaplasta lime plaster healthy

Range of textured Breathaplasta finishes both untreated and sealed.

Can I paint the surface?

Absolutely, you can paint the surface. Breathaplasta is compatible with all mainstream brands of internal decorating paints and you can treat a wall plastered with Breathaplasta as you would any other internal wall plaster product. If you have any concerns or want guidance on application, consult the specific paint manufacturer or speak to one of our team.

Natural and organic paint for natural and organic plaster

Natural and organic paints are made from natural binders, pigments and solvents. They include clay paints, chalk paints and milk paints (casein).

Should I use special paints?

Breathaplasta is an ultra-breathable lime plaster that has a highly vapour diffusion-open structure – in simple terms this means that moisture can freely pass through the material. This is also important for another performance aspect to Breathaplasta, its condensation control; the ability of Breathaplasta to naturally regulate humidity within a room. This extends to the paints that you use to decorate. To maximise the performance of the ‘lungs’ within Breathaplasta it’s important to use paints that preserve this breathability and do not ‘clog up’ the surface. Most mainstream emulsion paints have a degree of breathability with vinyl paints being the least breathable choice. The major downside to mainstream paints is that their chemical formulation can lead to the off gassing of toxic compounds that can be bad for your health and the health of your family.

Natural paints are a better choice for improved indoor air quality and a healthier living environment.

Natural and organic paints use plant oils, tree resins, earths and minerals that have been in use for millennia.

Natural and organic paints use plant oils, tree resins, earths and minerals that have been in use for millennia.

Why should people choose to use natural paint?

There are many reasons why natural paints are a better option and why people should be choosing to decorate with them. Natural paint ingredients such as plant oils, tree resins, earths and minerals have been in use for millennia and their chemical make-up means that they are much less toxic to human health than modern synthetic chemical paints. This is important given we spend up to 90% of our time indoors.

Natural paints are highly-breathable and allow for the movement of moisture through them which in turn allow the walls to breathe and prevents moisture from getting trapped within the walls which can lead to mould and rot causing damage to the fabric of the building.

Some mainstream chemical paints are non-breathable and do not allow movement of moisture. Painting your wall with these is like applying a layer of plastic to your wall – imagine running a marathon with a plastic coat on, all the moisture from sweating would be trapped inside and would make you feel very uncomfortable, not to mention…damp! Now imagine running that marathon with a highly breathable material that allows the moisture to wick away from your body and evaporate – much more pleasant and much healthier. We all wear high performance, breathable sportswear, but we don’t apply the same logic to our family homes.

What’s wrong with mainstream paints?

Paints have been used for thousands of years and it is only in the last century that they have been supplied by chemical companies using the by-products of oil refining. We’ve moved away from plant oils, tree resins, earths and minerals to petrochemical based paints that have become the mainstream option most readily available in our shops.

But petrochemical paints have a lot of ‘nasties’ in them, including formaldehyde, ammonium, titanium dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Many of these can cause respiratory and neurological problems, skin irritation and have even been linked to causing cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies chemicals as carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic or possibly carcinogenic. VOCs appear in all three categories.

Even with limits in place on the level of harmful chemicals paints can contain, many mainstream formulations can aggravate allergies, trigger asthma and cause headaches and dizziness – and yet we still choose to paint our children’s bedrooms with these chemical paints.

Asthma UK, a leading research and education charity lists decorating paints as one of the leading asthma triggers in the home.

What are natural paints made from?

Natural paints are made from natural ingredients – it’s all in the name! The term covers paints made from natural binders, pigments and solvents and includes clay paints, chalk paints and milk paints (casein). Solvents can be derived from citrus fruits and pigments and binders can be clay, chalk, plant material and plant oils. Although terms like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are less regulated than the food industry, most natural paint companies take a more responsible approach to production and produce non-toxic paints in a significantly less harmful way than the mainstream chemical paint companies.

Natural and organic paints can contain solvents derived from citrus fruits.

Natural and organic paints can contain solvents derived from citrus fruits.

What is the difference in cost?   

Natural paints tend to be the same price as premium paints and a little more expensive than mass market mainstream paints and own brand products. Coverage tends to be quite similar and they are usually just as easy to apply, however, drying times can take a little longer as natural paints tend to omit chemicals that speed up the drying process.




Breathaplasta is a very versatile product that offers a range of natural finishes from smooth to textured to super-textured applications for feature walls. The plaster dries to an attractive pale cream colour that’s highly desirable and can be left untreated. For a more complete look and to prevent off-dusting, seal the surface of the plaster with clear natural sealants. This best preserves the colour, texture and appearance of the natural plaster finish.

Painting Breathaplasta is the most common form of decoration and a whole world of paints awaits! You can paint Breathaplasta with any paint, but the use of many mainstream paints can lead to off gassing of toxic compounds that are unhealthy for you and your family and can contribute to poor indoor air quality with effects ranging from itchy or watery eyes, difficulty breathing, dizziness, itchy skin and a variety of other ailments as well as potential for serious health problems with prolonged exposure.

To get the best possible air quality in your home and to maximise breathability, use natural and organic paints. There are many good quality suppliers and their products offer superior breathability, are a much healthier and safer choice for you and your family and are often produced in a more environmentally conscious way.

To find out more you can visit the Ethical Consumer website by following this link.


Adaptavate launch ultra-breathable plaster primer companion product to Breathaplasta

Breathaplasta might well be the best lime plaster that money can buy (and the easiest lime plaster to use), but even the very best need a helping hand occasionally and that’s why we’ve launched our plaster primer (grip coat) product.

Adaptavate Grip Coat is a universal plaster primer suitable for all substrates and has a granulated formulation to offer a helping hand on those difficult and particularly smooth surfaces. It is intended to be rollered or painted on to areas that would benefit from an ultra-breathable, natural grip coat to provide better adhesion for the application of Breathaplasta.

Adaptavate Grip coat is a healthier alternative to standard primer and is preservative-free, odour-free and has no toxic chemical emissions. Like all our products it is also ultra-breathable (vapour diffusion-open).

Adaptavate products are independently tested to the highest standards and are scientifically validated to ensure they are of a consistently high quality and offer our customers the very best performance on the market.

To find out more about Adaptavate Grip Coat, visit the products page of our website by clicking here.

To find your nearest stockist of Adaptavate products, visit the stockists page of our website by clicking here.


Adaptavate welcome new Research Assistant, Lana to growing team!

We’re very pleased to introduce the newest member to the Adaptavate team, Lana!

Lana looking good in her fresh Adaptavate overalls.

Joining our growing technical department, Lana comes to us directly from Bath University and brings with her an abundance of knowledge from five years studying for a master’s degree in Civil and Architectural Engineering as well as the extensive knowledge she’s gained as a Passivhaus designer. She also has the accolade of becoming the company’s first female team member! We hope she’ll set the trend for more to follow!

Welcome to the team, Lana…what is it that’s brought you to come and work at Adaptavate?

Hey! So I’ve always been passionate about sustainability and the environment and with my interest in buildings, what’s happening at Adaptavate seems right up my street!


An MSc in Civil and Architectural Engineering at Bath University and a Passivhaus designer, congratulations, that’s quite something! You must be really pleased. Do you think this sets you up well for your technical role here?

Already I’m seeing things that I’ve learnt about at university being used in practice, which is great and I really hope I’ll be able to contribute some knowledge!


You’re obviously interested in the Passivhaus standard. What appealed to you most about studying this and do you think this is the gold standard for construction in the UK?

I really like the fabric first approach and aim to minimise energy use, but for my ‘perfect building’ there’s definitely other things to consider such as material source and renewable energy use.


Passivhaus is well known for its super insulated, high-tech buildings. Do you think there is a place in there for natural materials and natural building technologies?

Yes, I think there is and I would really like to see more of a focus on this in the standard, so hopefully that will develop. With the endless benefits, to me it seems silly not to use natural products and technologies!


Joining our technical team, you’ll be working to develop the science behind our products to validate their high performance and get them to market . What does a normal day look like to you?

So far I’ve been doing a mix of desk based research and report writing as well as more hands on making and testing. It’s a bit of a mix and I feel that no day will be the same, which is great!


Now for a few fun questions…        


We hear you’re soon off to France for a well-deserved post-study break! What holiday outdoor adventures have you got planned?

I think there’ll be lots of walking, kayaking and river swimming. And probably wine tasting too!


So, you’re clearly into your outdoor activities…do you play any sports too?

I like to go running and attempt at playing tennis


And you’re clearly into travelling…what’s been the best place you’ve travelled to so far?

Probably the Philippines, which was absolutely beautiful. Not just the beaches, but the mountains too. Diving was the best bit – I was lucky enough to dive in shipwrecks and this was just incredible.


Holiday snaps…the mountains and the beaches in the Philippines.


And if you could visit anywhere in the world you’ve never been, where would you go?

Nepal and India are next on my list!


What other interests do you have?

I really love cooking and am a big festival fan.


Favourite food/dish?

Anything with eggs is delicious!


Favourite film?

Oh, that’s a tough one. I saw Ladybird recently and loved it, so that’s at the top of my list for now.


Bringing Breathaplasta to the Benelux

Adaptavate are pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with a forward thinking building materials company serving the Benelux region consisting of the three neighbouring countries of Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Adaptavate have signed an exciting agreement for Eco-Makelaar to be the main distributor of the Breathaplasta product in the growing market of the Benelux region.

Eco-Makelaar is a building materials supplier that is looking to the future. They are a company that shares a similar vision to Adaptavate and are driven by the need for us to create healthier and more sustainable living and working spaces. Eco-Makelaar is guided by the cradle to cradle principle and recognises the huge positive impact we can all have on our health and the environment by smarter sourcing of our building materials.

Richard de la Roy, owner of Eco-Makelaar said “it is vital that our building industry becomes more sustainable and more innovative and Eco-Makelaar is playing a leading role in this. We are guided by the cradle to cradle principles and working with bio based building materials closely aligns with this. Solving condensation and moisture problems and preventing mould growth is a big issue, not only in the UK and bio based materials are a simple and healthy solution for retrofit and new build alike. We see a lot of potential for Adaptavate products in Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. They are a perfect fit for the circular economy, our common future”.

“It is an exciting period of growth  for Adaptavate”, Tom, Managing Director of Adaptavate said. “We have taken Breathaplasta from an idea on a building site to a fully operational supply chain and a product manufactured under ISO 9001 and sold in around 20 outlets across the UK. We have identified the Benelux region as an important market for Breathaplasta and one where the product can have significant social and environmental impact and sizeable commercial growth. We are excited to partner with Eco-Makelaar in this region – here’s to a successful partnership”!

If you have an enquiry for Richard, you can contact him using the details below.

Online: www.eco-makelaar.eu

Email: info@eco-makelaar.eu

Tel: +31 (0)478 51 16 03

Post: Lidwinahof 16, 5801 JW Venray, Netherlands








Adaptavate welcome new Research Technician, Jamie to growing team!

Adaptavate extend a warm welcome to Jamie Parry, our Research Technician and newest member of the growing team. We caught up with Jamie to find out a little more about him and discover why he’s chosen to work at Adaptavate.

Welcome to the team, Jamie! What’s brought you to come and work at Adaptavate?

I worked in the construction and landscaping industry for 10 years and recently decided to upskill. I’m currently studying for a BSc in Biosciences at the University of the West of England alongside working at Adaptavate. I’m particularly interested in biotechnology and biomimicry, especially regarding their facility in the construction industry.

Given my interest in biomaterials, my experience in the construction industry and my desire to make a positive contribution to the environment, Adaptavate was an obvious choice!


Your new role is in the technical team at Adaptavate – what are you currently working on?

We are currently preparing boards for a suite of structural tests. This means I get to be very hands on and practical which suits me perfectly – much better than sitting behind a desk!


What is a typical day like in your new role?



OK, now for some personal questions! What excites you outside of work – what do you do for fun?

Outside of work I enjoy outdoor pursuits such as climbing, caving, wild swimming and hill walking. I’m also an avid reader and a keen gardener.


Adventurous! What about music, what’s your favourite band/artist?

I like Jimi Hendrix, but also Ludovico Einaudi or possibly Mozart.


Best concert or gig you’ve ever been to?

Ludovico Einaudi or Rolling Stones.


Favourite film?

Inglorious Basterds

Where’s your favourite place in the world?

Ystradfellte in south Wales. Birds and beasts, caves and crags, waterfalls and woods. Awesome.





And if you could go anywhere in the world you’ve never been, where would you go?

Svalbard, Ural Mountains or the Centre of the Earth!


Cleantech Heroes in Tallinn, Estonia

Adaptavate were super excited to be invited to the beautiful and historic Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, to take part in a Climate KIC two-day Masterclass on meaningful branding. Owen, our Breathaplasta Product Manager packed his bags, jumped on a plane and joined an event attended by well over 40 other cleantech startups from right across Europe.

Beautiful Tallinn

From renewable energy and energy efficiency to software developers, food innovators and materials scientists the room was buzzing with great ideas and fizzing with the kind of energy you’d expect from cleantech pioneers.

Masterclass in action on Day 1

The event was led by Alisa Murphy, the founder and CEO of Life Size Media, one of the only communications agencies in Europe that chooses to work exclusively in cleantech. Life Size Media work on the belief that a good story can change the world, and they only tell those stories for companies that they genuinely want to see succeed. They’ve run award-winning campaigns combining public relations with design, marketing, digital and film and so had a lot to share with the room.

#cleantechheroes with Alisa Murphy, founder and CEO of Life Size Media

The Masterclass was a fascinating insight into the power of effective branding and messaging and the two-day session provided a lens for Adaptavate to better define its brand strategy and key messages and consider how to communicate this to customers.

Our Product Manager, Owen said “it is great to have these opportunities to work alongside other exciting and innovative young companies; to learn from their experiences, both good and bad and to bounce off their positive energy. I think the cleantech world is naturally a place for positive and innovative people who are looking to make a meaningful contribution to society and the environment through their work. This Masterclass was all about finding effective ways to channel that energy and positivity into successful branding and I think every company in the room left with a clearer vision of the message they wanted to communicate to their customers”.

Thanks to Alisa Murphy and the team at Life Size Media and to Climate KIC for their ongoing support.


Healthy Home Experts – Building Biology Events in Bristol

Adaptavate is a company built on ecological foundations, set up to develop and commercialise the next generation of bio materials for the mainstream construction industry. For four years we’ve been working to highlight health in our homes and buildings and the importance of healthy material choices as well as performance materials that can regulate moisture and improve indoor air quality. In this time the subject of healthy buildings has rapidly moved up the agenda and it was enormously pleasing this month to see The Green Register offer the UK’s first ever half-day series of training on Building Biology at DeskLodge, Bristol.

Desklodge Bristol

Hosted by the Green Register in partnership with the ASBP and presented by Tomas Gartner, Architect and Director at Passivhaus architects Gale & Snowden. The events proved a fascinating introduction to Building Biology and the Building Biology Standard – a simple methodology that puts health in our homes and building right at the forefront of design. The event was well attended by architects, developers and building professionals and really highlighted the importance of the fabric first approach for the health and wellbeing of building occupants. Of particular note was the reflection on how to improve indoor air quality and regulate moisture in our increasingly airtight and energy efficient living and working spaces. An excellent forum to learn from experts and discuss material specification with interested professionals. 

Greenwood house by Gale & Snowden Architects

What is Building Biology?

Building Biology is the holistic study of the interrelationships between humans and their man-made environment.  It is the science of creating healthy, life enhancing buildings. The Institute of Building Biology and Sustainability was founded in Germany in 1983 and from this the Building Biology Standard (Standard der Baubiologischen Messtechnik / SBM) was developed. This standard (most recently SBM-2015) gives an overview of the physical, chemical and biological, risks encountered in different parts of a building.  It offers guidelines on how to: perform specific measurements for other environmental factors such as indoor air quality; measure and evaluate electromagnetic radiation exposure and assess possible health risks.

The Building Biology movement is growing with over 6000 architects, doctors, surveyors, material suppliers etc trained internationally to create interiors which promote life within the built environment.

To find out more go to www.buildingbiology.co.uk


Adaptavate invited to House of Parliament for release of UK Green Building Council paper.

This month saw our founder; Tom invited to the Houses of Parliament as part of the
UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) release of an influential report on Healthy
House Building. The report aims to highlight the need to balance the need for
300,000 new homes a year with the quality to which these homes are built.


In a time when outdoor air pollution rightly gets a lot of exposure in the media, it is
important to consider the air quality of our homes and work places as we spend on
average 90% of our time indoors. The cost to the NHS of treating medical conditions
associated with poor living conditions is estimate to be as high as £2.5bn per year.

The UKGBC released a paper in 2016 highlighting the need and opportunity in this
space and has continued their work to date to bring it to the public’s consciousness
as the Prime Minister herself has recognised the connections between local environment and wellbeing in her 25 year Environment Plan.


It was a very well attended event with some of the big contractors, architects and
thinkers attending and an engaging address from Rebecca Pow MP, (Parliamentary
Private Secretary, DEFRA) and Ashley Bateson from Hoare Lea who were
collaborating on the report.

From Adaptavate’s point of view, this is a very informative paper and re-iterates that
the inclusion of the next generation of high performing, healthy building products
such as Breathaboard and Breathaplasta into the market is as important as ever.
This is combined with the fact that people are becoming increasingly aware of what
their homes are made of and how this effects their health.

This supports the notion that, as product developers, we need to continue to design
high-performing materials that don’t just ‘do a job’ but that can help improve people’s
lives, by creating healthy, liveable and beautiful spaces in which to work and play. It
is also our job to make sure that the materials are easy to use and specify and that
people across the spectrum understand the benefits in a clear and transparent way,
supported by substantiated performance claims and rigorous testing procedures.

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