Media and News

Sustainable hemp used to build zero carbon house

Hemp is used as a sustainable building material in a new house located in rural Cambridgeshire, UK. The agricultural shed is transformed into a ground breaking zero carbon house with pre-fabricated sustainable hemp-based construction.

Flat House is a series of linked spaces that transition from a large open single glazed hot house to a double height living space and two stories of sleeping accommodation. UK based Practice Architecture worked closely with engineers and material specialists to design and develop the building using prefabricated panels infilled with hemp grown on 20 acres of the farm.  The elements were raised into place in just two days.

The new building was built within permitted development and takes the footprint of an existing barn.  It sits within the original steel frame and consists of prefabricated timber-framed cassettes erected into thick, highly insulating walls that also hold the building up.

Although the house is built of organic and relatively light materials, it has some of the sense of mass and substance found in old masonry construction.  The house, which is quite small, is given generosity by both a high living area and a big glazed conservatory that occupies the full height of the old shed.  The exterior is covered in corrugated panels, which look like the cement cladding typical of farm sheds, but is made of fibers from the outer coating of hemp stalks combined with resin taken from agricultural waste.

Image credit: Oskar Proctor

New Board appointed for AGDF

The Australian Green Development Forum (AGDF) is pleased to announce its newly appointed Board for 2020.

The AGDF board members come from a diverse range of background disciplines and share a commitment to accelerating the adoption of sustainable practices in the Australian building and development industry.

AGDF President John Tuxworth said, “I welcome all our AGDF board members and look forward to working with them in 2020 to forward the development of sustainable communities across Australia.

“In the year ahead, the AGDF will continue grow our community and share sustainable solutions for our built and natural environments through networking events, education and professional development and by providing information and advice.”

The AGDF Board provides governance to steer the organisation’s operations, achieve its aims and ensure fiscal responsibility.  The AGDF’s 11 board members are:

  • John Tuxworth- AGDF President (Managing Director, BE Collective)
  • Cameron Hoffman- AGDF Vice President (Principle – Planning, RPS)
  • Simon Chau- AGDF Treasurer (Director, Commercial and Tax, Carthew Chau & Co)
  • Robert Hoffman- AGDF Secretary (Consultant, Management Consulting, Engineering & Asset Management Advisory, KPMG)
  • Chris Mahoney – AGDF Memberships Portfolio (Director, Verde Design Group)
  • David Uhlmann- AGDF Governance Portfolio (Director, Environment & Sustainability, Wolter Consulting Group)
  • Professor Catherine Yule- AGDF Education Portfolio (Professor of Ecology, Head of School, School of Science and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast)
  • Delwyn Langdon- AGDF Events Portfolio (Griffith University)
  • Anthony Simmons- AGDF Major Projects Portfolio (Principle Transport Planner, Aurecon)
  • Keith Murray- AGDF PR / Marketing Portfolio (Managing Director, Redd Zebra)
  • Gabriela Tencate – AGDF Web & Digital Communications Portfolio (Digital Consultant)

Building with bamboo could fight climate change

A new study says increasing the use of bamboo in the building sector could play a big role in fighting climate change.

Researchers at Cambridge University in the UK and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Austria examined bamboo’s structure and how heat flows through it, a process known as thermal conductivity.  Their findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“Renewable, plant-based materials such as bamboo have huge potential for sustainable and energy-efficient buildings”, says the study.  “Their use could dramatically reduce emissions compared to traditional materials, helping to mitigate the human impact of climate change.”

This is due both to the production and use of energy-intensive materials – mainly steel and cement – and the energy required to heat and cool buildings. It’s estimated that the building sector in the UK accounts for between 30 percent and 40 percent of the country’s climate-changing carbon emissions

The study says the amount of heating and cooling required in buildings is fundamentally related to the properties of the material they are made from, particularly how much heat the materials used can conduct and store.

The researchers say that a better understanding of the thermal properties of bamboo could lead to the plant being more widely used – not just for flooring materials, but also as part of the actual structure of buildings.

Australian research centre meets Living Building Challenge

  The Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) at the University of Wollongong is the only building in Australia to achieve full marks under the Living Building Challenge.

The challenge, run by the US-based International Living Future Institute, is considered the world’s toughest green building test with only 24 buildings worldwide meeting its requirements.  The Living Building Challenge uses a flower as a symbol to underpin its sustainability framework, where each ‘petal’ represents a different performance area.  These include site, water and energy use, choice of materials as well as more qualitative areas such as health, happiness, equity and beauty.

The building is net positive energy, meaning it produces more renewable energy from the 468 photovoltaic solar panels on its roof than it imports from the grid.  Black and grey water is harvested and treated on site, and storm water is collected and stored in an underground reservoir for use in toilets, washing, and garden and green-wall irrigation.  Indigenous vegetation native to the area is also being reintroduced to the site as part of the restorative objectives of the project.  All materials were sourced from within a specific distance from the site, for example steel and concrete were  sourced from within a 500 km radius.

Image credit:  University of Wollongong and Cox Architecture.

DWP wins award for coworking community space

DWP has won the Gold Award for their ‘Glowfish Office’ in the category of Workspace Interiors at the World Interiors News Awards 2019.

Located on the busy 19th and 20th floor of the Sathorn Nakorn building in Bangkok, Thailand, Glowfish’s serviced offices are ready-to-use meeting rooms (that can be rented hourly) and event spaces that serve high-performance local and international ‘millenial’ start-up companies, scaleup, SMEs and large organisations who need a temporary hub.

DWP’s innovative office design is conceptualised to increase productivity, support business growth as well as customers’ lifestyle choices by creating a relaxed, creative interior with natural light, practical facilities, and a sustainable space.   Industrial, raw and natural materials were mainly used for this project including concrete, wood, metal and a vertical garden to soften the environment, mood and tone.

The active reception with barista bar and hot desk working area is a hub formed from concrete and surrounded by a natural, green environment. The design reflects the inclusive culture and partnership approach to working with clients. The reception opens up to the larger community space that provides a single location for staff to work, socialise and hold community events.

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