1st September 2016: Sustainable Materials

The theme for September’s One Planet Frome meeting was Sustainable Materials – using sustainable, healthy products with low embedded energy, sourced locally, and made from renewable or waste resources. The focus was on sustainable materials that can be used for buildings, both construction and retro-fitting.

Terry Pinto, whose practice PAAD is based in Frome, talked about the challenges of sustainable architecture. Clients who would be keen on using materials such as natural wood, straw-bale, wood fibre insulation, green roofs and so on, are often put off by the extra costs – sadly sustainable building comes with a price. It’s important to be flexible and creative; for example, sometimes it makes sense to use less desirable materials if they’ll be more thermally efficient in the long run. For Terry, a key goal is to ensure good insulation with every building. Small, simple details can make a big difference, allowing buildings to breathe and stay dry. For people interested, a good source of information is ‘Green Building’ magazine (now Ezine) – http://greenbuilding.co.uk/.

Mark Lloyd, from Protomax Plastics Ltd., talked about the ground-breaking work that they are doing. Protomax have developed a technology for recycling mixed waste plastics and turning them into a board they’ve called ‘Stormboard’. At present most plastics can only be recycled with other plastics of a similar type – and because this is difficult to achieve, 80% of all plastics in the UK currently end up in landfill. Protomax’s new technology enables all the energy that went into the production of plastic from oil to be 100% recycled as a board that is lightweight, strong and weatherproof. As a building material, it is more ‘sustainable’ than wood; after all, the UK consumes 3% of the world’s wood but has only 1% of the world’s population. Protomax’s recycled plastic board can be used for a wide range of purposes – e.g. kitchen worktops, hoardings, wall cladding, decking, garden rooms and offices, retails counters, animal enclosures in farms, signage, compost bins, emergency shelters… (watch this space!). Protomax –  http://protomax.net/  – are about to establish a fully functioning factory in Frome.

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