Sustainable architecture |Building materials of the future

Building with hemp

The use of natural and renewable raw materials is constantly increasing in the construction sector. Hemp is now also used on construction sites alongside wood. In Europe, hemp is increasingly grown as an agricultural crop for use in food products, cosmetics and textiles. So far, however, wood residues and fibers have hardly been used and usually end up as waste.

A German company mixes this hemp “waste” with lime to produce tiles. These not only have particularly favorable thermal properties, which eliminates the need for insulation, but they also absorb moisture and are particularly well suited as soundproofing material. Another advantage: hemp grows about 50 times faster than wood.

Mushroom insulation

Mushrooms don’t just taste good; some can even be used as durable insulation material – at least some of them are. The Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) is researching ways to use the part of mushrooms that grows underground (mycelium) as insulation material.

When dried, the mycelium can be compressed into any shape, acquiring the hardness of plywood. As a result, mushroom insulation material offers a durable and inexpensive alternative to plastic, polystyrene and wood, and can also be used in furniture making.

Bricks made from waste wood

The construction industry must reduce its carbon emissions to become more sustainable. Wood plays a central role here as a renewable resource. However, hot summers have a detrimental impact on forests. Long dry spells and the pest infestations they have caused in Germany in recent years have resulted in the felling of more trees than ever before. In 2020, 53.8% of harvested wood was damaged.

A German company has started to use this inexpensive resource by developing compressed wood bricks made from waste wood. The wooden modules can be stacked on top of each other like Lego bricks, allowing them to replace conventional concrete support structures. They are not only more durable and recyclable, but also significantly cheaper than traditional building materials.

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