Unique green building products have been gaining global attention of late, with sector members looking to even more innovative means to deliver truly green, sustainable buildings. One key way in which green builders are finding success in lowering carbon emission outputs is through the replacement of various materials with sustainable or recycled equivalents.
Installation artist, builder and environmentalist Joost Bakker is one such industry member who is developing buildings that are sustainable due to his use of ‘replacement’ natural, recycled and waste materials.
One crucial element for Bakker in developing his private home and pop-up restaurants, made completely of recycled or reused materials has been the use of straw as an insulator.
In addressing members of the industry at this year’s Sustainable Development Conference, hosted by the Property Council of Australia, Bakker detailed the merits of the material; its high performance qualities and how it has the ability to change building practices while aiding in economic growth and community support.
Bakker says straw, as the world’s biggest waste product, has the ability to act as high-performance insulation. Its density allows for interior temperatures to remain stable, as it provides an R-value of seven or higher.
The environmentalist builder also points out the social benefits this will offer to farmers who can create income through the sale of straw.
American company Stramit USA is also encouraging the use of straw in the building sector. The firm has developed an 88,000 square foot facility located in Forth Worth, Texas that is dedicated entirely to manufacturing what they have labeled as ‘agricultural fiber’, commonly known as straw.
The product is known as Stramit CAFboard and is being pushed by the company as a replacement for fiberglass, particle board and a number of other materials used in both commercial and residential building. The process of giving the often-wasted product a new lease on life has been labeled as ‘upcycling’ by Stramit USA director of design, LEED accredited professional and member of the American Institute of Architects Phil Morely.
“The concept of taking a valueless by-product from one process – in this case, the wheat harvest – and creating something of value is what we refer to as ‘upcycling,’” says Morley. “Stramit’s process produces a carbon-neutral product that is strong and durable. These materials are good for the environment from start to finish and can help those seeking LEED credits for their building projects.”
With strong arguments from these two green builders, we may very well see straw crossing over into the mainstream building sector. The possibility is a major lowering of carbon outputs without lowering the living standards of the average building.