10 ways to create a more circular Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

A time for giving, receiving…and generating mountains of waste!

As we break for the festive holiday, we thought we’d share 10 ways to create a more circular Christmas and show a little extra care for the environment during the season of celebration.

Christmas is a time for mega-waste in the UK.

Did you know that…

300,000 tonnes of card packaging is used at Christmas; enough to cover London’s Big Ben, almost 260,000 times

1 billion cards end up in the waste bin

The amount of wrapping paper used for presents is enough to wrap around the equator 9 times

6 million Christmas trees are discarded every year

250 tonnes of Christmas trees are thrown away after Christmas

13, 350 tonnes of glass are thrown out in the UK after Christmas.

But Christmas doesn’t have to be a burden on the planet. With a little effort and imagination, we can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season and here are 10 ways to create a more circular Christmas in 2018.

1. Buy items with less packaging

It’s time to get savvy in the supermarket and stop buying products which are excessively packaged. You’re only going to unwrap them and throw all that excess packaging in the bin. What’s the point in that?

2. Choose gifts made from recycled sources

Many individuals and small businesses have developed great products using recycled materials. Supporting these businesses helps reduce the waste stream while promoting the concept of making best use of available materials. Here are some examples for you to consider.

A recycled tyre picture frame is just one example of how old materials can be re purposed and still look good!

3. Give ‘Battery-Free’ Gifts

Just imagine the number of battery operated toys, games and devices that are gifted each and every Christmas. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard. Even rechargeable batteries find their way into the waste stream eventually. How about traditional board games? Or outdoor activity sets or sports equipment? Gets you out and about in the fresh air for hours of fun, no batteries required.   

Get active with outdoorsy gifts and sports equipment, no batteries required.

4. “Used” Gifts

It’s time to look at “used” in a new light. Giving a used gift was once out of the question – it made the gift-giver feel cheap. And no one wants to risk offending the recipient. But used gifts are the kindest of all to the environment, as no new energy or resources are expended.

Today there are many areas where used items can be appropriate as gifts, and the list grows with the steady accumulation of goods in our consumer society. Used computers, for example, can be refurbished and upgraded. Or consider vintage clothing, books, DVDs and CDs, bikes, sports equipment, tools, cameras, children’s toys and clothes. Used musical instruments are especially appropriate as they hold their value and appeal for a long time.

Used gifts such as musical instruments are the kindest to the environment and can still have a lot of appeal to the receiver

5. Use recycled paper for present wrapping

Instead of buying more and more wrapping paper from the shops, only for it to be ripped up and thrown in the bin, get creative and use old newspapers, magazines or left over brown paper for wrapping. Or find re-usable items such a fine quality bag or wicker basket to show off your gifts.

Use old newspapers, magazines and left over brown paper for low impact wrapping

6. ‘Re-gifting’ is Okay 

There’s always discussion about the etiquette behind the trend to ‘re-gift’, that is, to pass on a gift you received but do not need. What’s to discuss? Re-gifting makes perfect sense. If you receive something you really don’t need, look for ways you can reuse this gift by passing it on to someone who can use it. Of course, re-gifting needs to be done with care so as not to offend the original giver, but keeping a gift you don’t need is wasteful. Freecycle is a free network where users can advertise things they no longer want for others to take free of charge. So instead of disposing of unwanted items, you can give them a new home.

7. Choose a live tree

Although plastic Christmas trees are reusable from year to year, real trees are the more sustainable choice. Plastic trees are made of petroleum products and use up resources in both the manufacture and shipping. While artificial trees theoretically last forever, research shows that they are typically discarded when repeated use makes them less attractive. Discarded artificial trees are then sent to landfills, where their plastic content makes them last forever.

Live trees, on the other hand, are a renewable resource grown on tree farms, that are replanted regularly. They contribute to air quality while growing, and around ninety percent are recycled into mulch. Live trees are usually locally grown and sold, saving both transportation costs and added air pollution. Live trees also smell like Christmas!

Live trees are best … and they smell great!

8. Home composting

This Christmas, instead of throwing all your vegetable peelings in the bin, put them to good use and turn them into compost. It’s great for your garden and even better for the environment. Egg boxes, scrunched up newspapers, tea bags, fruit scraps and veggie peelings can all be composted. Your garden will never have looked so good!

Compost all your Christmas vegetable peelings and much more.

9. Clothes swap

Instead of perusing the aisles for a festive party dress and spending lots of money on something you’ll probably only wear once, why not do a clothes swap with friends? That way, the Christmas dress you wore to last year’s party won’t go to waste hanging there in your wardrobe, and you’ll also save money!

10. Give old furniture a good home

Christmas is a time when we get lots of new things, but what about the old stuff? If you’re getting rid of any household equipment or furniture, contact a furniture reuse organisation like The British Heart Foundation, that way your old sofa can be used and loved by someone else and you’ll be supporting a worthy cause.

Find a good home for your old furniture.

The recent launch of DEFRA’s Waste Prevention Programme, produced in partnership with WRAP, is meant to instruct consumers and industry on how to reduce waste at whatever point they happen to be in the supply chain.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Breathing life back into our old buildings with Breathaplasta

Article as featured in Autumn 2018 edition of Conservation + Heritage Journal

Breathaplasta used in Listed building - Corley Manor, Warwickshire

Breathaplasta has been used extensively in the refurbishment of Grade II Listed Corley Manor in Warwickshire

Breathaplasta is the fast setting lime plaster making light work of renovating heritage buildings

The UK is rich in heritage with a wealth of historic and listed buildings across every region. It’s estimated that there are over half a million listed buildings in England alone with many more in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, all of which have their own classification systems for listing.

These listed buildings along with the many millions of older buildings with no listing status were constructed in the style of vernacular architecture, meaning that they were built using locally sourced construction materials and traditional techniques. So how do we care for and maintain these older buildings in modern times whilst staying true to their heritage? And how do we make them fit for the 21st century, achieving optimum energy efficiency and healthy living whilst preserving their integrity and freedom from structural damage?

Retrofitting traditional buildings is a growing trend in the UK as a shortage of houses is encouraging potential homeowners to look for alternative solutions. There is an abundance of older properties in need of renovation and a bit of TLC. Upgrading these traditional and historic buildings can prove both a challenging and rewarding experience. The renovation process is complex and a sympathetic renovation that uses appropriate materials and techniques can prove costly.

The skill base and knowledge required to achieve a quality renovation and refurbishment is dwindling. Specialist heritage building contractors with knowledge of traditional materials and building techniques are in high demand and they can charge a premium for their work. The specialist skill of traditional lime plastering is one such example.

Lime plaster is the traditional finish for buildings pre-1919 but was gradually replaced throughout the 20th century with quicker setting gypsum and cement-based plasters, now widespread throughout the UK. However, lime plaster has had somewhat of a renaissance recently with its surging popularity not solely down to its pleasing aesthetic (many would argue lime plaster is a more attractive finish for older properties), but also for its greater flexibility and its material function in regulating moisture and maintaining ‘breathability’, otherwise known as vapour permeability. This ‘free movement of water vapour’ through its surface is of vital importance as it is how our older buildings were designed to manage moisture to prevent damage to the building fabric through damp, rot and mould growth.

Whilst traditional lime plaster is proving increasingly popular, it is still prohibitively expensive for many smaller renovation projects. Lime plaster demands a long and protracted application and curing process that frequently requires multiple visits by a specialist lime plasterer to apply, tend to and complete the plastering to a high standard of finish.

This need no longer be the case.

Recognising a growing demand for lime plaster alongside a shortage of specialist trades and expert installers, Adaptavate set out to develop a modern, high performance, breathable lime plaster that was simple to use, easy to apply and fast setting. The result is Breathaplasta.

What is Breathaplasta?

Breathaplasta is a high-quality, ultra-breathable lime plaster that naturally regulates moisture, prevents condensation and mould and thermally insulates your walls. Breathaplasta is quick and easy to install and can be used by any good plasterer, regardless of their experience or knowledge of lime. The product eliminates the high costs once associated with lime plaster by opening the market up to non-specialists and minimising the labour required to complete a project. In fact, Breathaplasta can be applied in multiple coats and finished to a high standard by any good plasterer in only a single day.

Better still, Breathaplasta functions as a high-performance skin to the building by raising the surface temperature of internal walls to naturally insulate and retain warmth. Breathaplasta creates a warm and inviting living space whilst lowering energy bills.

Breathaplasta improves thermal performance by raising the surface temperature of walls. This also reduces the chance of condensation and mould forming and creates a healthier living space.

How has Breathaplasta been used on conservation and heritage projects?

Breathaplasta has been used on many renovation and restoration projects on heritage buildings with specifiers recognising the importance of its ultra-breathable formulation, its ability to regulate moisture and prevent condensation and mould and for its quick and easy installations.

Below are comments from two of our installers.

“We wanted to increase the surface temperature of the walls in our client’s grade II listed property. The building has long-standing damp related issues from historic use of inappropriate materials. Ultra-breathable and insulating, Breathaplasta’s hygrothermal qualities enabled us to achieve a warmer wall surface to better manage condensation and prevent the reappearance of cold spots. Breathaplasta helped us to realise a healthier and more comfortable home for our client”.

Lee Harper

Harper Building Diagnostics

“Our client wanted a lime plaster finish throughout her cottage to retain the character and aesthetic of a building that’s nearly 300 years old. Breathaplasta allowed us to lime plaster entire rooms in just a single day, instead of the usual 2-3 days for other lime products. We were able to pass this saving on to our client and she was very happy with both the finish and the extra cost saving”.

Chris Bradshaw

Urban Construction

If you have a heritage property and would like to find out more about using Breathaplasta or would like a sample, please get in touch.

We are also looking to extend our network of trusted installers across the UK.

Breathaplasta key benefits





Adaptavate at UK Construction Week 2018

Adaptavate showcased Breathaplasta and Breathaboard as part of the MaterialDistrict Expo at UK Construction Week 9-11 October in the NEC Birmingham. UK Construction Week is the largest built environment event in the country attracting an audience of thousands. This year’s theme was “Future of Construction” and MaterialDistrict Expo created an exhibition with 100 of the latest and best innovations internationally for The Surface Materials Show.

The MaterialDistrict Expo, titled “Materials that Matter” highlighted the important role of future materials in our built environment for sustainability, circularity, energy saving, ‘smart’ solutions and health & wellbeing. A tactile exhibition, “Materials that Matter” invited people to touch, feel and interact with the building materials of the future.

On show were lightweight composites, recycled plastic, engineered wood, natural materials like cork textile and bamboo façades and new materials engineered from waste coffee grounds or waste denim. The expo also featured new acoustic solutions, smart interactive sunscreen materials and of course our very own healthy bio-based construction products, Breathaplasta and Breathaboard.

“It’s exciting for our bio based materials to be showcased at such an important event as UK Construction Week” said Owen, Product Manager at Adaptavate. “The show had a record turnout of 34,000 people over just 3 days and “Materials that Matter” proved really popular as as it offered everyone the opportunity to explore and get hands on with a wide range of quirky materials. Judging by the innovations on show, the future of construction is looking very bright!”


Hydraulic lime or non-hydraulic lime? Confused by building limes? Let’s break it down.

Lime can be a confusing topic. You will have come across an abundance of names used to describe construction limes – lime putty, hydraulic lime, hot lime, fat lime and perhaps formulated lime. The world of building limes can be a confusing place.

But if you own a traditional solid wall building, typically constructed prior to the 1920s you will need to familiarise yourself with the use of lime if you are going to complete a sympathetic renovation that will allow your building to function as it was originally intended and avoid potential damage.

So, let’s take a closer look at construction limes, break it down and see how this has enabled Adaptavate to develop its own high performance ultra-breathable lime-based plaster; Breathaplasta.

Natural hydraulic lime (NHL) and non-hydraulic lime putty

Hydraulic lime or non-hydraulic lime?

Construction limes can broadly be categorised into two types, hydraulic (Natural Hydraulic Limes) or non-hydraulic (lime putty). The main difference between the two is the way in which they set.

Hydraulic lime is made from an impure limestone and sets through hydrolysis, a reaction caused by water. Hydraulic lime provides a faster initial set and greater compressive strength compared to non-hydraulic lime and will set in more extreme conditions including under water. Because of their more robust nature, hydraulic limes are most often used for exterior work and are available in differing degrees of strength with the classifications feebly and moderately hydraulic lime, NHL 2 and NHL 3.5 and eminently hydraulic, NHL 5. The more hydraulic a lime is, the faster it sets and the higher its final strength. NHL 2 and NHL 3.5 are frequently used for internal, as well as external works. NHL 5 is generally used for external works in exposed and more extreme conditions but is less ‘breathable’ and much less flexible.

Non-hydraulic lime is made from a pure limestone, pure calcium carbonate, and tends to be in the form of a putty. Non-hydraulic lime sets by carbonation (re-absorbing carbon dioxide from the air). It is softer and sets much more slowly than hydraulic lime and remains softer for longer as the carbonation process is very slow. The fatty nature of lime putty lends itself especially well to plasters and renders and its flexibility allows for the subtle movement common to older buildings constructed with little or no foundations.

What is a Pozzolan?

A pozzolan is a term for a mineral additive which, when mixed with non-hydraulic lime mortars, renders and plasters, brings about a slight hydraulic set, achieving a harder, faster set.

Pozzolans have been in use for millennia and the name comes from the use by the Romans of volcanic pumices and tuffs found at Pozzuoli, at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. Pozzolans continue to be used to this day and are a tried and tested means of increasing strength and speeding the set in non-hydraulic lime mixes to improve their performance.

How does this relate to Breathaplasta – what is its composition?

Breathaplasta is comprised of a blend of limes and so has characteristics of both types of construction lime. This makes Breathaplasta a very versatile product and well suited to a wide range of applications across several different building types and ages – from heritage to new build.

Breathaplasta is predominantly a high quality, ultra-fine non-hydraulic building lime blended with a small amount of moderately hydraulic lime (NHL 3.5) and a mineral that acts as a pozzolan. Supplied pre-mixed in powder form, Breathaplasta simply requires the addition of water to create a smooth blended plaster mix.

As Breathaplasta is mostly comprised of a soft, non-hydraulic lime it sets by carbonation and absorbs carbon dioxide from the air. Combined with a fine organic bio material, Breathaplasta has a highly open microporous structure that is ultra-breathable and allows moisture to freely dissipate through its surface. This makes Breathaplasta well suited to heritage and listed properties that require consideration for breathable materials that wick away moisture.

In addition to the high vapour permeability (breathability) of Breathaplasta, key features of the product are its quick setting time and ease of use, and this is due to the small amount of moderately hydraulic lime (NHL 3.5) and pozzolanic addition. Breathaplasta makes use of a naturally occurring argillaceous (clay-like) limestone that acts as a pozzolan and speeds the set of the lime so that 2 or more coats can be applied in just a few hours and a wall surface finished in a single day. This faster initial curing and drying time sets Breathaplasta apart from its competitors as it is more like gypsum-based plasters (though no gypsum or cement is in the mix).

It is common for lime plaster to take a long time to set and this increases labour costs and completion times. The curing time for common lime mixes is around 4 to 7 days and this can mean multiple visits by tradespersons and extended time on jobs which all add up in the completion costs. Breathaplasta sets quickly enough for tradespersons to complete whole rooms in just a single day without compromising on quality or breathability.

Key features of Breathaplasta

  • Ultra-breathable – highly vapour permeable.
  • Moisture regulating – maintains optimum humidity.
  • Thermally insulating – prevents condensation and mould.
  • Quick and easy to install – just add water to reach your preferred consistency.
  • Quick setting – 2 or more coats can be applied, and a wall surface finished in a single day.
  • Versatile – can be installed onto multiple backgrounds in new build and heritage properties.


Cold walls, condensation and clever solutions

It’s been a summer like no other and one we’re not likely to forget in a hurry, though as we now enter September and the nights begin to draw in, our attention turns once more to heating our homes. But at the same time another problem raises its ugly head once more – condensation and mould. Condensation is seasonal and coincides with the arrival of the colder autumn and winter months.

Condensation occurs when warm, moist air meets a surface (or air) of a lower temperature.

Condensation occurs when warm, moist air meets a surface (or air) of a lower temperature.

Most of us have experienced condensation in our property at some point in time and 25% of homes in the UK are estimated to have ongoing issues with condensation, damp and mould according to a report from the UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings.


What is condensation?

Condensation occurs when warm, moist air meets a surface (or air) of a lower temperature. Where the two temperatures collide, the warm air loses its ability to hold moisture and the moisture it can no longer hold is deposited (condenses) onto the cold surface.


Why do my windows get condensation?

Double and triple glazing reduces condensation on windows by keeping the surface temperature of the glass warmer, but windows are still generally cold surfaces and so attract condensation. This isn’t to say that condensation only occurs on windows. Moisture will condense on other cool surfaces, particularly adjoining wall surfaces and even ceilings.


What causes condensation?

There are four main factors that cause condensation:

  • Too much moisture being produced in the home
  • Insufficient ventilation
  • Cold surfaces
  • The temperature of the home

While it’s common to think that cold and draughty older properties are more likely to suffer condensation and damp, it is just as common in more modern buildings and in well insulated new builds. In fact, as we improve the insulation and airtightness of our buildings to make them more energy efficient, an unintended consequence is that we reduce ventilation and limit the property’s ability to ‘breathe’. Reduced ventilation traps moisture and causes an increase in condensation in better insulated buildings. In fact, condensation is now reported as being the most common form of dampness in buildings and this accounts for this phenomenon in our newer and better insulated properties.

Condensation can obviously affect all properties, no matter their age or market value or whether they are privately owned or rented. Prolonged periods of condensation can lead to the formation of black mould and a multitude of potential health impacts from itching eyes to breathing issues including asthma and even the lung disease Allergic Aspergillosis.


What causes too much moisture being produced in the home?

Cooking, washing, drying clothes, taking a bath or shower and breathing! That’s right, just our breathing alone can produce several litres of moisture a day. In fact, an average family of 4 can generate approximately 14 litres of moisture per day!

An average family of 4 can generate approximately 14 litres of moisture per day!

An average family of 4 can generate approximately 14 litres of moisture per day!


Take back control

With everything, knowledge is power. An easy way to take back control and a great way to engage kids is to install a hygrometer, an instrument that measures temperature and relative humidity. This will show you when humidity levels fall outside of the optimum range. The ideal relative humidity range for health and comfort is about 40-50%.

A hygrometer showing temperature and relative humidity. The ideal relative humidity range for health and comfort is about 40-50%.

A hygrometer showing temperature and relative humidity. The ideal relative humidity range for health and comfort is about 40-50%.

More humid conditions provide an environment in which house dust mites easily multiply. Excessive condensation can lead to a multitude of damp-related health problems such as asthma, bronchitis and allergies. Black mould fungus on walls and ceilings can shed their spores. These can easily enter the body through inhalation. These allergens can cause annoying physical symptoms from itching eyes to breathing issues including asthma. As their worst they can cause lung disease Allergic Aspergillosis.

What are the solutions to excessive moisture, condensation and mould growth?

The solutions fall into two categories; behavioural change and mechanical or product interventions.

A lot can be achieved by simple behavioral change to reduce the amount of moisture being generated in the home and minimise the risk of condensation occurring. However, as our homes become better insulated and more airtight to improve energy efficiency, we have an increasing need for mechanical or product interventions to manage the remaining moisture. Ultimately, even the most conscientious condensation combater will still generate moisture through their everyday activities and this can cause problems in our modern airtight and insulated homes.

How can I reduce moisture in the home through behavioural change?

There are several easy steps you can take to reduce moisture in the home and minimise the risk of condensation.

  • Avoid drying clothes inside on radiators or in front of fires. Dry clothes outside or use a well-vented tumble drier.
  • In the kitchen, cover pans when cooking, don’t leave kettles boiling and use an extractor fan to vent excess moisture to the outside. Keep the kitchen door closed when cooking or washing.
  • In the bathroom, keep to short baths and showers and use an extractor fan to vent excess moisture to the outside. Keep the bathroom door closed when taking a bath or shower.
  • Keep vents clear of obstruction and leave window vents open all year round to ensure a constant flow of fresh air.
  • Open doors and windows regularly to ventilate your home and leave interior doors open when not washing or cooking or when out for the day to improve ventilation.
  • Try to maintain a constant low-level background heating to help ensure no rapid temperature changes, circulate air and ventilate your home and to keep wall surfaces warm.

Is there another way to ventilate my home and increase the surface temperature of my walls without increasing my energy bills?

Glad you asked – this is where mechanical and product interventions come into their own and we’re going to look at two options below – Breathaplasta ultra-breathable lime plaster and Ventive PVHR. Both of these are passive ways of creating healthy, energy efficient homes without using energy demanding mechanical ventilation and without the hassle of ongoing maintenance.


Check your walls. Are they cold to touch? Perhaps they’re damp even?

If your walls feel cold, chances are your home is not very well insulated. In a poorly insulated wall, warmth dissipates quickly to the outside, creating a cool wall in comparison to the room. If the wall is well insulated, a barrier is created that prevents the warmth from escaping to the outside and this means the wall is going to hold the warmth and feel warmer to touch.

Increasing wall surface temperature is an effective way to reduce condensation, damp and mould and there are many ways to achieve this.

Breathaplasta is an easy, low cost product intervention to increase the surface temperature of your internal walls and prevent condensation and mould. At just £3.50 per square metre, Breathaplasta is on average 3x less expensive than installing cavity wall insulation and around 30x less expensive than installing external wall insulation (EWI) per square metre.

Breathaplasta is a very easy and very cost-effective way to combat condensation and minimise mould risk.

Breathaplasta works in three key ways:


The fine bio material incorporated into the plaster has an insulating effect and increases the surface temperature of internal walls.

This insulating effect makes them feel warm to touch and reduces heat loss, in turn reducing demand for heating and saving you money on your energy bills during the autumn and winter months.

Critically this insulating effect reduces the chance of condensation forming as wall surfaces are warmer preventing water vapour in the air from changing into liquid.

You can see how Breathaplasta increases the wall surface temperature in the photo below.

Breathaplasta increases the surface temperature of internal walls minimising the risk of condensation by creating a warmer surface. This additionally reduces heating demand and saves money on energy bills.

Breathaplasta increases the surface temperature of internal walls minimising the risk of condensation by creating a warmer surface. This additionally reduces heating demand and saves money on energy bills.


The fine bio material incorporated into the plaster also has a secondary function. It breathes with a building’s occupants, passively regulating the moisture created from daily activities by extracting moisture from the air and holding it within its microporous structure, only to be released as moisture levels in the air decrease.

In this way, Breathaplasta ensures that the ideal relative humidity range of about 40-50% is constantly maintained for maximum health and comfort.

You can see how Breathaplasta naturally regulates moisture levels in the graphic below – moisture is freely absorbed and released by the plaster as levels of water vapour in the surrounding air rise and fall over the course of the day and throughout the night.

Breathaplasta breathes with a building's occupants, passively regulating the moisture created by daily activities. This helps inhibit mould growth, creating healthy living spaces.

Breathaplasta breathes with a building’s occupants, passively regulating the moisture created by daily activities. This helps inhibit mould growth, creating healthy living spaces.


Should moisture levels be excessively high, and some condensation continue to form then the naturally high pH of Breathaplasta will inhibit the growth of mould and fungi on its surface, ensuring a healthy and comfortable living environment for you and your family.

To see more on Breathaplasta and to find out where to buy with one of our UK stockists click here.



Ventive are a company that offer PVHR (Passive Ventilation with heat Recover) ‘naturally intelligent ventilation’ systems. Ventive supply a range of energy efficient ventilation devices that introduce fresh air to buildings without using or losing energy. Ventive allows for continuous ventilation of domestic dwellings without the associated heat loss, running costs and hassle of maintenance. No power required and with no noise and no running costs, Ventive offer a cheap, easy to fit (and retrofit) alternative to standard mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR) systems and one that can still achieve 92-97% heat recovery.

ventive windhive

ventive windhive

The systems on sale can fit both existing properties with chimneys and new build without chimneys and will ventilate your home with warm, fresh air and expel moisture laden stale air to the outside reducing incidence of condensation and minimising mould risk.

Ventive PVHR How it works

PVHR – How it works

For more information on Ventive PVHR technology (Passive Ventilation with heat Recovery) follow this link to go to their website.


We’re now on the MaterialDistrict platform!

CO2 sequestering concrete? Recycled plastic walls?

Chitin and Cellulose flexible food packaging?

And bio-based building materials…we’re now on the MaterialDistrict platform.

MaterialDistrict is the world’s leading match-making platform in the field of innovative materials empowering global innovation by linking material needs with material solutions. 

There’s a whole range of weird and wonderful innovations to check out online by following this link to MaterialDistrict.com

The MaterialDistrict network encourages joint innovation towards a better, more sustainable and higher quality society.

R&D and design professionals are using the platform to discover new material solutions across six market sector categories – ‘Architecture’, ‘Interiors’, ‘Apparel & Textiles’, ‘Urban & Landscapes’, ‘Products’, ‘Graphics and Packaging’.

MaterialDistrict 2019 (previously knows as Material Xperience) will take place from 12-14 March 2019 in Rotterdam and is a leading event for R&D and design professionals.

We’re thrilled that MaterialDistrict have chosen both Breathaplasta and Breathaboard to feature online and at their exhibitions tot take our healthy, low carbon, bio based designs to a wider audience across Europe and beyond. Indeed we’ve already seen an increase in enquiries for both Breathaboard and Breathaplasta from Italy, Denmark, Austria and the USA.

Check out our Breathaplasta Wall Plaster listing by following this link.








Check out our Breathaboard listing by following this link




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.


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

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