High Performance Building Alliance & Arcology System 

The Challenge

High-Performance Integrated Design Challenge: Modular, adaptable and Circular Biomaterials for Sustainable and High-Performance Commercial and Residential Interiors, Ideal for New Construction and Retrofitting.

Seeking solutions Technology Readiness Level 4-7.

In detail

The challenge underscores the importance of prioritizing circularity principles in proposed solutions, ensuring sustainability throughout their lifecycle. Solutions should align with EU policies like the Circular Economy Action Plan and be designed to be modular and adaptable. This approach maximizes material versatility and facilitates trading or repurposing at the end of its use.

The examples provided showcase a diverse array of biomaterial possibilities, each presenting distinct advantages in promoting sustainable building practices. It’s important to note that these examples are non-exhaustive and serve to illustrate the wide range of options available within the realm of biomaterials for interior construction:

  • Hemp, flax, kenaf, straw, reed, bamboo, coir, rapeseed straw, and sunflower stalks, derived from construction or agricultural waste, provide excellent strength and versatility for interior partition finishing and joinery, showcasing unique textures and eco-friendly properties.
  • Wool insulation: Wool insulation provides effective thermal properties and can be easily relocated in modular sections, enhancing its adaptability in various construction projects.
  • Post-consumer waste glass: Refiring post-consumer waste glass into worktops, tiles, and other surfaces reduces waste while creating durable and visually appealing materials.
  • High-density boards from paper waste: Manufactured from paper waste and eco-resins, these high-density boards serve diverse applications in cladding, joinery, and panels, combining durability with sustainability.
  • Mycelium-based acoustic panels: Mycelium-based panels provide superior acoustic performance while embodying circularity principles, offering an innovative solution for soundproofing in buildings.
  • Textile and rubber waste: Repurposing textile and rubber waste as filler material or weaving them into furniture components showcases the potential for creativity and sustainability in construction projects.

These examples illustrate the broad spectrum of biomaterials available for sustainable building practices, each offering unique benefits in terms of performance, aesthetics, and environmental impact

What does implementation look like?

A successful solution would demonstrate the integration of modular, adaptable, and circular biomaterials into high-performance building systems, providing superior thermal and acoustic performance while meeting stringent fire safety requirements. Solutions should offer versatile installation options, allowing for concealed fixing methods and multi-functional use across various building elements. Implementation should lead to increased adoption of bio-based materials in construction, reducing environmental impact, enhancing sustainability, and promoting a shift towards circular economy principles.

We intend to install and trial successful products within the HPBA demonstrator project, providing assistance and advice for further development. Success following this challenge would result in a market-ready product with established routes to market, a reliable supply chain, and the ability to scale effectively.

Company background

The High Performance Building Alliance (HPBA) is an Irish Government and UN approved Centre of Excellence, dedicated to addressing climate change through industry informed research and upskilling, to optimise the sustainability of the built environment.

HPBA was founded in 2019 by Wexford County Council in collaboration with Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board with a goal of addressing skills gaps of the building industry in their ability to respond to the demand for A rated houses. Wexford became the first county in Ireland to have all their new build local authority homes rated as NZEB. WWETB developed the NZEB specifications, followed by relevant training programmes and began delivery from the first NZEB pilot training centre in Ireland.

This centre is located in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford and has since been replicated, with the training rolled out nationally to five other regional centres designated by government policy. In 2021 HPBA joined the UNECE High Performance Buildings Initiative (HPBI) and represents Ireland at global level as one of nine Centre’s of Excellence.

Explain your approach to sustainability

Sustainability is our most important core value and is genuinely in our DNA. As a Centre of Excellence, we don’t just promote sustainability, we live and breathe it too. Our new head office is in a Passive House building, and our fit out follows the circular economy principle of design for disassembly. Each element is procured with net zero in mind. Additionally, we emphasize the importance of modularity and adaptability of components to extend product lifecycles. Designing for disassembly allows buildings to serve as true material banks, retaining the value of components at the highest level possible, with the ability to trade them after use.