The huge trade show EcoBuild has returned to the Earls Court exhibition centre in London. Given that this is the same venue for 100% Design, where maybe, if you're lucky, 5% of content is sustainable, it is amazing to see the entire two hangars filled with eco-friendly materials. However, on closer inspection, it is clear that while all eco-materials might be equal, some are definitely more equal than others. Here are five which we think make the TreeHugger grade:Tradical® Hemcrete: a light concrete made of a hemp binder and hemp products that has excellent thermal mass and insulation properties. Tradical® explain its benefits, "The development of the Tradical® HB special lime binder specifically for use with Tradical® HF hemp shiv offers, to mainstream construction, materials that have the ability to make a very significant contribution in combating global climate change. Fast growing hemp stores carbon during its growth and releases oxygen into the atmosphere. The overall CO2 balance for Tradical® hemp and lime products is such that captured carbon is retained within the fabric of a building."
Structuran® 100% Recycled Float Glass: a sheet construction material made from 100% recycled glass without using resin. It is manufactured in Germany using a special patented system, which we are told focuses on the cooling down process to ensure the bonding of the cullet pieces. This material can be sourced through their UK agent The Greenhouse Effect. The float glass can be used for many different applications from building facades to kitchen surfaces.
Sheep Wool Insulation: This company now supplies a range of thermal and acoustic insulation products made from 100% pure new sheep's wool. It started in business over 150 years ago, orginally "purchasing greasy fleece wools directly from Wicklow farmers for sale into English woolen mills. The business has since expanded to purchase wools from farmers and merchants around Ireland and England and now sells these wools worldwide." Sheep Wool Insulation was recently chosen as one of the Independent's Top 50 Great Ideas for the 21st Century.
NBT Systems ThermoPlan®: A construction block using natural 'fire aerated clay'. "Suitable for low rise buildings (up to 4 storeys) of all kinds including housing, flats, offices and schools, also for basements and cellars and infill in high rise and large span buildings." Good thermal performance, very quick construction, up to 3 times faster than cavity walling and uses 30% less embodied co2 than comparable cavity walls.
Ty-Mawr Glaster®: This company based in Wales has developed a range of products that aim to improve the sustainability of traditional lime mortars, plasters and renders, by identifying alternative aggregates. Glaster® is a blend of lime as a binder and crushed recycled glass as an aggregate instead of sand. As Ty-Mawr tells us, " Lime has been used successfully in building for over 4000 years, it helps to control condensation and damp and is fully recyclable. Using recycled glass reduces the level of sand extraction and develops a market for a waste product."
:: EcoBuild At Earls Court, London, through 28 February.