Headlines: March 13th, 2015

Environmental arguments are starting to carry weight in the construction industry as projects are launched to replace traditional materials with straw and wood.

A housing development using the straw panels is to being built in Bristol. All 7 houses were built in 9 days – and can withstand hurricanes.

Innovate UK helped fund the research into the straw panels, a ModCell® product which was developed with help from the University of Bath.

ModCell is a small Bristol company set up in 2005. The company manufactures and markets prefabricated panels made of straw as low carbon building materials.

Director Craig White said of the new straw bale house development in Bristol: “It’s a quicker and more effiecient way of building homes. Instead of plaster board, compressed straw is used. The straw and air combined stops air and heat leaking out of the buildings, allowing them to stand up to be the houses of the future.”

Craig White hopes that the straw houses could reduce heating bills from £600 a year to only £60. One resident who’s been living in a straw-insulated home in Leeds for 5 months says her heating bills have dropped to 20% of what they were in her old home.

In Vienna, a wooden skyscraper is to be built. It will house a hotel, apartments, restaurants, offices and a wellness centre. Wood is the preferred material for this 276 foot building because of its environmental qualities.

Architects claim that by using wood in place of concrete it will save 2,800 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The wood absorbs CO2 from the air while it is growing compared to the production of concrete which causes high levels of carbon emissions.