We are Investigating How to Integrate More Biomaterials in Danish Construction

How do we integrate more biomaterials such as grass, hemp, and seaweed into Danish homes and buildings? In the new initiative ‘Veje til biobaseret byggeri’ (‘Pathways to bio-based construction) by Realdania, we are investigating this challenge. 

Replacing conventional structures and materials with biogenic materials is estimated to contribute up to 75% of CO2 reductions. Denmark possesses underutilized resources that hold great potential for revolutionizing the construction industry. As part of our efforts, we are exploring the cultivation of biogenic materials like seaweed, grass, and hemp, with the goal of using them in various aspects of construction, including kitchens and living spaces.  

There is a widespread desire among the construction industry to emit less CO2 than currently. However, elements of uncertainty and risks can often arise when biogenic building materials are to be used. Consequently, our investigation will not only delve into the existing barriers but also explore potential solutions to facilitate the integration of biomaterials into future construction endeavours. 

From seed to city 

The project is an investigation into the whole value chain of biogenic construction and the potential of Denmark to supply the materials locally. It sets out to identify barriers to scaling up the use of the materials in the building industry on a national level. This is a huge interdisciplinary effort involving research spanning from sustainable land use and farmland typologies to biogenic materials’ inherent qualities and applications in the construction of buildings.  

Taking the inherent uncertainties into account we will establish a probable future where biogenic construction plays a much larger role. How would it look if Denmark started producing more biomass for the building industry? Which materials hold the greatest promise, and who would be poised to cultivate and refine them? 

Planetary boundaries 

As the building industry contributes to approximately 30% of Denmark’s CO2 emissions, we bear a significant responsibility in addressing our impact on the climate crisis. However, we must also recognize the urgency and consequences of various other crises, notably the biodiversity crisis. This is our chance to reconcile the relationship between nature and cities and deliver pathways for the industry to stay within the planetary boundaries. 

The project runs from 2023 to 2025 in collaboration with experts from Aarhus University, Copenhagen University, Aalborg University, the Royal Academy’s School of Architecture, Smith Innovation, and Artelia consulting engineers. 

Find out more via Realdania’s website 

Top image credits: Eco Cocon

Date: 25 October 2023
Links: Find out more via Realdania