It’s no secret that construction companies are making major strides in the world of eco-friendly construction materials and practices. Technologies such as solar power and modular construction have made it easier than ever for eco-conscious homeowners to customize their living spaces while keeping sustainability in mind. In fact, as of mid-2017, the U.S. has a total solar power capacity of 47.1 gigawatts (GW), which is enough to power 9.1 million homes (Solar Energy Industries Association). However, one company based in Copenhagen has developed a modular and eco-friendly solution created from completely upcycled and natural agricultural waste materials.
Danish construction firm Een Til Een developed the ‘biological house,’ created from ‘leftovers’ including grass, seagrass, straw, and other materials that would otherwise have been burned and create toxic fumes. Instead, these materials were able to be processed into raw construction materials with substantial eco-friendly benefits.
Most people know by now that traditional modular construction already comes with significant eco-friendly advantages. In fact, produced in one-fifth the time and at half the cost of site-built homes, manufactured housing assembled in a controlled, factory environment uses fewer materials and generates 35% to 40% less waste than comparable site-built units. However, incorporating all-natural materials into the construction process brings these benefits to a whole new level that Inhabitat says has “virtually zero impact upon the environment.”
“Mounds of recovered grass, straw and seaweed — all of which would, under normal circumstances, be burned for energy — were processed into raw materials to be used in the home’s construction. Not only were the products upcycled, but the environmental impact of burning them was avoided,” writes Nicole Jewell on Inhabitat.
This all-natural and completely sustainable home was supported by the Danish Ministry of the Environment Fund for Ecological Construction. It was also built in secret for the new BIOTOPE ecopark in Middelfart, Denmark. Designed with advanced digital production technology, it’s clear to see that this one-of-a-kind home had sustainability in mind every step of the way.
Another unique element of this all-natural home is its foundation. As opposed to being constructed on a traditional concrete foundation, the home was built on screw piles, which enables the home to be removed easily and without hurting the land.
Arguably most interesting, however, is the process involved in making the wood used suitable for construction. For this particular home, tomato stems and wood chips were turned into composite boards, which were used to construct the house. These sustainably-sourced softwoods are heated with a bio-based liquid, which essentially polymerizes their cell walls. This process effectively converts pieces of softwood into hardwood panels that are ideal for home construction.
Ultimately, according to the National Association of Home Builders, 8.7 million Americans worked in construction as of 2010, and the industry has countless possibilities when it comes to incorporating biology and technology. Being creative with construction techniques and materials is the key to paving the way toward a sustainable and eco-friendly future.