Thursday, 5 April 2018

Industrial nature

This summer should see the availability of the first product of Industrial Nature, a Scottish company in the business of creating sustainable building materials from by-products of UK-grown crops. Their rather minimalist web-site gives few details, so I quote from Clean Slate, the magazine of the Centre for Alternative Technology:

"While working in community development, managing director Scott Simpson came across people living in Dickensian housing conditions. Many homes he visited would be damp, cold and mouldy, with occupants often at risk of fuel poverty. This experience moved Scott to enrol on an MSc course at CAT, where he was introduced to low impact building methods that could alleviate the problems faced by neighbourhoods with poor housing. Learning about hemp-lime composites (or 'hempcrete'), Scott found that this material in particular solved all of these health and environmental problems better than most, leading him to focus his thesis on hempcrete blocks. [...]

"After graduating in 2014, Scott teamed up with technical director Euan Lochhead to put the theory into practice by embarking on a deep-green retrofit and loft conversion of his 1930s cavity wall-constructed flat with natural materials. The flat was completely gutted and rebuilt, including the addition of a solar thermal hot water system.

"Data-logging and monitoring of the flat after the retrofit has proven that the natural materials are passively maintaining comfortable internal temperatures and humidity (almost perfectly, day and night, all year round) in addition to slashing the heating bills to a quarter of the cost of an equivalent three bedroom home.

"However, Scott and Euan found that most of the natural materials they used had to be imported because there was a lack of comparable products made in the UK, so they decided to found Industrial Nature to provide a local alternative.

"Furthering the results of Scott's MSc thesis, the company has been developing its first product, IndiBloc. With this versatile product, Industrial Nature hopes to bring hempcrete into the mainstream of the UK construction industry by overcoming the long curing times and labour-intensive installation procedures associated with wet-cast hempcrete. [...]

"Amazingly, the benefits of IndiBloc are achieved utilising a low-value, left-over crop material: the woody core of UK-sourced hemp plants, a by-product from the textile industry. This results in a better than zero-carbon product that uses no petrochemicals, produces no toxins and is manufactured close to its market."

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