Tests are underway on natural and recycled resources that could become the building materials of the future.

These include prefabricated wall panels comprising waste wood and insulation made from fungal mycelium.

INBUILT is a major European project, including a research team at the University of Bath, which aims to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of buildings throughout their life cycle with innovative products and systems.

Researchers from Bath’s Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering will carry out the tests on new natural and bio-based materials.

Dr Steve Allen, who is leading the University’s part of the INBUILT project, says:

“At Bath we are well-known for our capability and work characterising new materials, while understanding the commercial and practical reality of the ways in which they will be used.

“Also key to this work is the life cycle assessment we will also carry out, to understand and minimise the environmental footprint of each product.”

As well as the assessment, Bath researchers will work to reduce environmental impacts of the construction products, by co-developing and optimising production processes.

Ten innovative products and systems are being developed and tested, including:

  • large-sized rammed earth blocks
  • recycled fired and non-fired bricks
  • hybrid straw-clay boards
  • recycled concrete and recycled concrete blocks
  • prefabricated waste wood external and internal wall elements
  • smart windows with recycled glass and bio-PUR frames
  • bio-based prefabricated curtain walls
  • recycled wastepaper and textile fibre insulation mats
  • bio-based recycled insulation sheet panels/infill
  • second life photovoltaic panels.

Four demonstration buildings will be built across Europe – one in the UK – to carry out the experimental tests.

Project Coordinator Professor Erwin Franquet from the Université Côte d’Azur adds: “These innovative solutions are pivotal in our journey towards sustainability, using locally sourced bio- and geo-materials as well as reused and recycled elements to mitigate the construction sector’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions.”

A key feature of the INBUILT project is a digital platform usng a Building Information Modelling (BIM)-based approach. Project Delivery (IPD). INBUILT’s approach will be demonstrated in real-world settings across France, the UK, and Germany, showcasing its viability and adaptability.

Coordinated by the Université Côte d’Azur, the INBUILT project involves a consortium of 16 partners, including researchers, architects, and technology providers. The project formally started in December 2023 and runs until May 2027. It is funded with €7.3 million (£6.2 million) from the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon Europe.