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Returning bio-based construction materials back to mainstream use.

ISOBIOThe ISOBIO Project, a Europe initiative encouraging a new approach to insulating materials is proposing an innovative new strategy to bring bio-based construction materials back into the mainstream. ISOBIO aims to develop new bio-based insulation panels and renders, and to scale them to mainstream adoption in the building and construction industry. A purpose driven by their vision: the less we intervene on materials, the more we achieve.The ISOBIO project will develop a new approach to insulating materials through the novel combination of existing bio-derived aggregates with low embodied carbon together with innovative binders to produce durable composite construction materials.

These novel composites will target 50% lower embodied energy and CO2at component level and 20% better insulation properties than conventional material. The project will also seek to demonstrate a reduction of at least 15% in total costs and 5% total energy spent over the life time of a building.

At theISOBIO Project, innovation is coming straight from nature: fibres and straw are some of the raw materials at the core. Scientists and stakeholders do acknowledge this but demonstrating this vision presents a number of research and technical challenges. This could be a niche market, and a highly eco-friendly one.

The University of Rennes hosted the first regional stakeholder workshop on 4 February 2016. It brought together academia and research stakeholders to tackle the main challenges of the projects objectives and to explore opportunities offered by bio-based construction materials.

Multi-fold barriers were identified that need to be overcome if bio aggregates are to be widely adopted across the construction sector: technically, the challenge is to do with confidence in producing raw materials and meeting the technical standards for natural insulation materials. Scientifically, water repellence and fire resistance are essential issues under the microscope.

Behind the uptake of bio-based aggregates, there is an even more substantial question: is the market ready for them? This raises the issues of public perception and market penetration. Persuading users that they can safely benefit from bio-based materials may be as challenging as reaching the market penetration level required to replicate the solution developed while keeping the same quality level of the final product.

The workshop enabled a wide range of research and academia stakeholders to engage directly with one another and explore these challenges, in view of working together towards ISOBIOs (@isobioproject)aim of widespread adoption and design of a bio-based product with high-insulating properties, low embodied energy and carbon, hydrothermally efficient, greening the building and construction industry.

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