During the summer months we have been fortunate to have some great interns working with us at Adaptavate. They have brought fresh ideas and energy and are really dedicated to helping us to bring all the benefits of Breathaboard to the market. We want to introduce you to our second intern: Michael who has just finished his MSc dissertation into the market barriers of bio composite building materials and how they can be overcome. Here is an article he has written from his learnings from his studies and its great to have him on board!
“After learning about the unsustainable nature of the construction industry I began to research sustainable solutions to base my MSc dissertation on. My initial research gave me a brief overview of the unsustainable nature of the construction industry and highlighted some potential exciting solutions. I came across various products and construction systems which had, or claimed to have, a reduced environmental impact in comparison with mainstream materials but I felt that they were not going far enough. I was interested in solutions which combined positive environmental impact with superior performance. This led me to organic bio composites, specifically but not exclusively, hemp based bio composites otherwise known as hempcrete, a cast-on-site bio composite similar to concrete.
I was initially attracted to the Industrial hemp plants ability to ‘sequester’ (or ‘lock up’) CO₂ through its high CO₂ absorption during growth. I soon discovered that through building with hemp and other bio materials it is possible to not only reduce the CO₂ impact in the construction of a building, but also the running of the building. On top of this, organic construction materials often outperform mainstream materials in a number of ways; regulation of humidity and moisture in the air, improved air quality increasing the health of the building and its inhabitants, fire resistance, reduction in VOCs and acoustic absorption a to name but a few.
As I began to further understand the nature and processes of constructing with bio composites such as hempcrete I realised that the nature of the material creates barriers to its widespread adoption in UK construction. Although not radically different to conventional building systems or hard to learn, the processes involved with hempcrete require stakeholders to adopt new methods at every stage of the build, something which is often met with resistance in a ‘conservative’ industry.
Through my dissertation research I was invited to a bio composite industry meeting where I was introduced to a number of stakeholders working with the material, this is where I met Tom and Alberto from Adaptavate. When I discovered that Adaptavate were creating a superior bio composite alternative to plasterboard, which realises all of the benefits discussed above and more, whilst maintaining conventional working practices I immediately became interested. This is because I saw the potential that Breathabaord has to combine the benefits of bio based building materials, along with an easy to use, direct alternative to conventional materials. I believe that this can help shape construction industry and products into something better performing and more sustainable.
The modular nature of Breathaboard means that no adaptations to building designs, skills or processes are required; it is used in the exact same way as plasterboard, and this is a totally new and exciting approach in building material design. The main difference between plasterboard and Breathabaord is its ability to reduce the risk of condensation in the home, and therefore this reduces the chance of mouldy walls and ceilings. This results in various health benefits for occupants living in a house using Breathaboard. What’s more – Breathaboard if also great for our environment as it is 100% compostable – reducing the hassle of disposal.
One of the major findings of my dissertation was that by reducing market barriers, ease of use for example, the likelihood of widespread adoption of sustainable building materials increases. Through providing an alternative to plasterboard which outperforms it in every criteria Adaptavate are making the choice between Breathaboard and plasterboard a no brainer, why would you not want bio composite building materials like Breathaboard in your home or place of work?”
Written by Michael Benham.