• plant based materials could offer 20% better insulation than conventional materials
  • bio-based insulation could offer a 15% reduction in total life costs
  • insulation made from agricultural by-products is more environmentally friendly
  • straw-bale homes have been found to reduce fuel bills by up to 90%
  • bio-based materials could reduce the ‘embodied energy’ cost of a building by up to 50%

Scientists think that novel insulation materials based on plant waste could offer 20% better insulation than conventional materials.

They could be cheaper too. The EU-funded ISOBIO project is developing such bio-based materials and expects them to have 15% lower whole life costs than conventional insulation.

These insulation products can be made from agricultural by-products like straw – the leftover stalks from cereal crops. Reusing these existing resources would help lower the environmental impact of manufacturing insulation.

Straw has already been shown to be energy efficient compared with conventional insulation. A study of straw-bale homes in Leeds, in the UK, found that such houses could reduce fuel bills by up to 90%.

But these materials won’t just reduce energy and CO2 emissions once in homes. The ISOBIO project thinks that such materials could also reduce the energy needed to create and transport construction materials, potential reducing the ‘embodied energy’ cost of a building by 50%.

At the moment, such products are likely to be more expensive than conventional materials, but as manufacturing and building techniques become more refined costs will come down.