A growing awareness of the environmental impact of construction materials is leading to development of more sustainable building products, with particular attention focussed on bio-based resources and circularity. In recent years the market share of bio-based building products has grown significantly, supported by research on materials such as wood fibre, hemp, and straw bale. At the same time there has been growing awareness of the potential for greater circularity in construction, prolonging the life of existing products and materials, thus minimising embodied carbon emissions of future projects, as well as reducing reliance on primary resources and impact on landfill. This paper presents results of an investigation into the thermal and hygric characteristics of three novel insulation prototypes developed from bio-based or waste-stream materials. The experimental development and characterisation of insulation using maize pith, recycled bedding (polyester duvet) materials, and wheat straw insulating prototypes are presented. Hygric and thermal performance are compared to a mineral wool insulation product. As part of this work a series of large-scale thermal conductivity and hygric investigations were also conducted in which the performance of each insulation product with a timber framed wall was studied under steady state and variable environmental conditions. This work was part of a larger international research project aimed at developing insulating materials from bio-based and waste streams and will support market development of novel materials and products into mainstream construction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130030
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work was completed as part of a larger research project, the Interreg project Sustainable Bio & Waste Resources for Construction (SB&WRC). The SB&WRC project is a cross-Channel cooperation enterprise involving 8 academic, non-profit, and private partners (University of Bath, University of Brighton, and Alliance for Sustainable Building Products – ASBP, in the United Kingdom, and UniLaSalle, ESITC Caen, Construction 21, Véolia, and Nomadéis in France) which aims to design and develop 3 prototypes of low-carbon thermal insulants made from underutilised agricultural co-products and waste. The SB&WRC project is supported by European Union funding from the Interreg VA France (Channel) England programme, which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The ERDF is contributing €1.26 million towards the project, for a total budget of €1.8 million.


  • Alternative material
  • Durability
  • Energy
  • Fibre orientation
  • Humidity
  • Hygric
  • Insulation materials
  • Straw bale
  • Thermal
  • Thermal conductivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Sustainable bio & waste resources for thermal insulation of buildings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this