Built by Nature Prize Awards €500,000 to Biobased Construction Innovators

AMSTERDAM, June 4, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Built by Nature is pleased to announce the winners of its inaugural global Prize to stimulate uptake of innovative biobased construction materials, with a €250,000 first prize awarded to Singapore-based company Widuz for its bamboo product solutions.

Widuz manufactures BVL™, a range of structural biocomposite products using bamboo fibres and biobased adhesives for superior strength, durability, and environmental benefits compared to traditional materials such as concrete and steel. With up to a 40% smaller carbon footprint compared to conventional materials, Widuz’ patented processing ensures that BVL™ retains and enhances bamboo’s natural strength, making it up to three times stronger than typical engineered timber and 20% lighter. Bamboo’s rapid growth cycle of around four years makes it more renewable than most timber species, addressing the urgent need for sustainable materials while capturing and storing carbon as it grows.

Widuz contributes to local socio-economic development by partnering with FSC-certified bamboo plantations and factories that employ fair compensation practices to ensure their supply chain upholds high standards of social responsibility.

Three Prize runners-up will also receive €50,000 each in funding:

  • KuNa – a bamboo-adobe programme in Nicaragua developed by Casa Congo, provides affordable, sustainable, and resilient housing for communities in emerging economies. Featuring modular scalability and technical simplicity, KuNa offers designs tailored to different housing needs, ranging from emergency shelters to social housing.
  • Elementerre, based in Senegal, uses clay and typha (known as bullrush, or cattail) to manufacture load-bearing bricks and insulating boards. Offering advantages over conventional materials such as concrete in terms of carbon footprint and thermal performance, Elementerre presents a promising solution to address the region’s housing deficit while promoting sustainability and environmental stewardship.
  • Sugarcrete®, developed by University College London, is a material made from upcycled sugarcane waste, transforming the fibrous material into sturdy building elements using mineral binders to achieve different degrees of structural strength. Its applications range from new-build construction to retrofit of existing buildings, offering exceptional thermal, acoustic, and fire-resistant properties.

Built by Nature has also allocated an additional €100,000 for a support programme of mentoring and networking for all winners and selected finalists.

“When Built by Nature launched the Prize, we had no idea what we might find, but were delighted when we received almost 300 submissions from around the world, with half coming from Africa, Asia and the Americas,” according to Paul King, Built by Nature CEO. “This Prize demonstrates that we have more to learn and share, to turn brilliant ideas and innovations into mainstream low-carbon construction solutions – another step towards a built environment that works in unison with nature.”

Materials featured in the Prize submissions included seaweed, mycelium, sheep’s wool, hemp, sugarcane and coconut waste, secondary timber, seashells, and invasive water weeds. Fifteen finalists performed highest against the Prize criteria:  presenting biobased materials intended for use in the built environment; proving that the product can be successfully manufactured using current technology, demonstrating that the product is already in the marketplace and delivering favourable approaches to carbon, nature and social impacts.

About Built by Nature

Built by Nature is a network and grant-making not-for-profit organisation supported by Laudes Foundation and LTPP Foundation with a mission to accelerate the timber building transformation and a vision for a built environment that works in unison with nature. BbN supports innovators in their journey to decarbonise our built environment and protect nature. The Built by Nature Fund makes grants to projects that can increase the uptake of biobased materials and sustainable timber and improve their climate impact, overcoming the most challenging barriers. https://builtbn.org/

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Built by Nature Prize Magazine: An Overview of All Winners and Finalists
Built by Nature Prize Magazine: An Overview of All Winners and Finalists

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