Birmingham-based building company Linford Group has provided a glimpse of the “sustainable” future – by taking a journey back in time.
The firm outlined its vision for the next generation of ‘better-than-zero carbon’ sustainable building materials at a meeting of the city’s construction professionals.
Linford is taking a lead with new sustainable buildings materials by looking back at natural products and techniques that have been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
The company is working with Abingdon-based specialists Lime Technology to explore ways of cutting the industry’s carbon footprint by using hemp and lime in place of concrete and cement.
Lime, made from naturally-occurring limestone, was first introduced to Britain as a building material by the Romans. Despite a range of properties it has gradually been replaced in mortars and renders by modern cement products.
Hemp, meanwhile, is a fast-growing crop product that can be bound with lime to create new masonry materials which lock away CO2 to create sustainable buildings that require minimal heating or cooling.
Speaking at an event organised to introduce Birmingham architects, engineers and surveyors to the potential of ‘new’ building materials, Linford chief executive Simon Linford said: “Over 50 per cent of the UK’s CO2 emissions come from the construction and use of buildings, and in the US that figure is more like 75 per cent. “That is why the Government is looking so closely at the construction industry, and why everyone in that industry has a duty to look very seriously at both the building process and the long-term costs of using its buildings.
“Since we first encountered the potential of using lime and hemp to create a new generation of more sustainable buildings, Linford Group has been working closely with Lime Technology and other partners on a range of projects.
“We are excited by the potential here, and confident that it won’t be long before lime and hemp products will sit alongside other new materials which will transform the nature of buildings and the way they are built.”
Speaking at the event, Ian Pritchett from Lime Technology first outlined the chief benefits of lime-based mortars and renders – including the fact they allow bricks to be reclaimed and re-used. This represents a substantial sustainability advantage.
However, it is when lime is combined with hemp to make Tradical® Hemcrete® product that the real carbon reduction advantages become clear.