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Scaling up bio-based materials for sustainable construction

Scaling up bio-based construction materials is contributing to combatting climate change. In this article, we explain how bio-based materials can contribute to sustainable construction.

The bio-based consortium

In this article, we explain the importance of scaling up bio-based materials for sustainable construction. At Hedgehog Company, we aim to be a driving force in the sustainable transition of our planet. An important sector within this transition concerns the built environment. With our interdisciplinary knowledge and entrepreneurial approach, we are contributing to a new construction method adopting sustainable materials in the construction industry. 

In collaboration with the Woningbouwatelier [1], Hedgehog Company presents three innovation projects that contribute to sustainable building and green construction. These projects are showcased in the Natural Pavilion at the Floriade Expo 2022 in Almere.

One of the three projects concerns the upscaling of bio-based building materials. Hedgehog Company, on behalf of the Woningbouwatelier, is mapping the environmental impact of ten new bio-based construction materials. The consortium that has developed the HoutKern method is led by the Noordereng Group.

Bio-based wall of bell pepper waste

Bio-based walls from natural resources

An exhibition of bio-based materials will be set up in the Natural Pavilion. These natural materials are made mainly from Dutch agricultural products. They are selected based on their applicability in residential construction. 

Bio-based construction materials are natural materials that grow back. This means that these materials are renewable and, if grown sustainably, are infinite. The exhibition is intended to accelerate the integration of bio-based materials in construction. This is a crucial step in making the Dutch construction sector more sustainable.

Besides natural materials being good, these are also substitutes for the production of materials with high CO2 emissions, such as steel and concrete. 

Bio-based construction materials are lighter than conventional materials. This makes them easier to handle and less heavy in transport. Easier handling also means less heavy machinery on-site of the construction projects. Using these materials therefore cause less carbon and nitrogen emissions.

Finally, large-scale use of bio-based materials can also positively contribute to combatting climate warming and carbon emissions. Through photosynthesis, these materials store carbon. For this, sustainable agriculture for bio-based construction materials must be combined with the sustainable use of these materials. Such a system of construction with natural and sustainable materials, can make our build environment a massive carbon capture and storage system.

Installing one of the bio-based walls made of local reed

Environmental impact of bio-based materials

Hedgehog Company specialises in performing Life Cycle Assessments (LCA). We use LCAs to map the environmental impact of a wide range of products and organisations. Commissioned by the Woningbouwatelier, we carry out LCAs for the ten bio-based construction products from the exhibition. With the results of these LCAs we inform the producers on the environmental performance of their materials and production processes. Also, we indicate the amount of carbon storage. Finally, we consult them on how-to reduce the carbon that is resulting from their processes.

We perform LCAs for six products, which producers can use to register with the Dutch National Environmental Database (NMD) [2]. If the products are included in the NMD, they receive more attention and can be used in so-called MPG calculations. This calculation focuses on the environmental performance of buildings.

Some of these assessed products are not as far in development yet. For these, we perform simplified, ex-ante life cycle assessments. These ex-ante LCA is very valuable in product innovation and development. Based on these analyses, the developers gain valuable insights into their products. They use this information while further developing and scaling up their innovations into products ready for the market.




Download full report on bio-based materials below. Dutch only, please contact for english information.
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