Banana & Potato Buildings

December 2017

Banana & Potato Buildings.

Waste Not ....

A new Arup report predicts that organic waste, like bananas, potatoes and maize could be used as building materials. It claims this would help tackle the global problem of rising levels of waste and depleted resources. In the UK alone, construction accounts for 60% of all raw materials consumed.

Less Cost AND Less CO2
Envisaging a completely circular system, with building waste fed back into the biological cycle at the end of its service life and nutrients returned to the soil, the report argues that capturing organic waste streams from cities and the countryside could provide the industry with lower-cost, lower-CO2 building materials such as bricks, insulation and partition boards.

Huge Potential
Arup believes that the potential for the bio-economy is "huge", with "Over 40 million tonnes of dried organic waste from agriculture and forestry produced in Europe in 2014 alone and the amount growing year on year."

Build-it - DON'T Burn it
While a kilogram of waste incinerated for energy recovery has a value of approximately 0.85 euros. the same material used for interior cladding could sell for up to six euros per kilogram, claims Arup. The report, The Urban Bio-loop, also points to advances in the development of alternative organic materials, including mushroom bricks grown in five days and waste potatoes used as insulation and acoustic absorbers.

New Inventions
Arup has created the SolarLeaf, the first facade system in the world cultivating micro-algae to generate heat and biomass, and BioBuild, the first self-supporting facade panel made from bio-composite materials. "As one of the world's largest users of resources we need to move away from our 'take, use, dispose' mentality," said Guglielmo Carra, Arup's Materials consulting lead for Europe.

Call to 'Scale-Up'
With some producers making lower-CO2 building products from organic materials, Carra believes that the industry needs to come together to scale up this activity so that it enters the mainstream. However, to do this an important first step is to work with government to rethink construction codes and regulations to consider waste as a resource, opening up the opportunity to repurpose it on an industrial-scale.

Current & In-Development

Peanut shells – already being used to produce low-cost materials like partition boards that are resistant to moisture and flame retardant.
Rice husk ash – being mixed with cement to reduce the need for fillers.
Rice - as a raw material for the production of boards.
Banana fruit and leaves – already being used to make rugged textiles. Bananas contain high strength fibre and have good acoustic absorption and durability.
Potato peel - can be cleaned, pressed and dried to create a low-weight, fire resistant, water repellent, insulating material and acoustic absorber.

Your Partner for Innovation
If you have an idea for improving the way materials can be used and waste avoided, talk to us. Our off-site construction systems already reduce the amount of material that gets wasted in your projects, helping to avoid land fill, hazardous waste separation and handling on-site, and delivering better value for you and your customers.

Empty Shells for "CUSTOM Self-Builds"
Our 'Benfield Homes UK' division is now working with architects & developers to take over the burden of dealing with the latest government planning requirement for 'Custom Self-Build' homes on every development. Observing agreed Design Codes and Plot Passports for planning permissions, our in-house architects and designers use advanced timber frame technology to provide 'empty' shells for 'Custom Self-Builders' to plan and fit out interiors to suit their own ideas. Four stages of completion are offered, from bare shell, with elevations completed, through to 'turnkey' delivery.