Episode #32 - Adaptavate: Creating healthy buildings with a new set of lungs

Show notes

Now, the construction sector has it's problems, certainly when it comes to the negative impact it can have on our dear planet.

In the UK, the energy from fossil fuels used to build and run buildings accounts for about half of our carbon dioxide emissions. Half of that pollution comes from domestic properties and half from commercial buildings, like offices, schools, leisure centres and hotels.

And there is a direct correlation between non-green buildings and climate change. Unsurprisingly, 98 per cent of the world’s megacities – many of which are jam-packed with inefficient properties – are already experiencing climate risks, such as flooding and dramatic weather events. If developers continue to create buildings in the way that they have done for decades, the planet is heading for a 6°C of global warming. That is certainly the view of the World Green Building Council, which has been looking into these things.

And to stick to within a 2°C rise in average global temperatures – a target most scientists believe is our best chance of avoiding catastrophe – the buildings sector will have to reduce 84 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050 – the equivalent of eliminating 22,000 coal-fired power plants.

It is only when you start looking at the individual facets that make up our built environment that you begin to realise just how big a task lies ahead.

Our subject this week is plasterboard. Of course, it is only a small part of the larger constituent, but improving the performance of this ubiquitous material that can be found in properties everywhere could make a big difference. That’s certainly the view of our guest this week. Tom Robinson is the founder of Adaptavate, a company that has created a bio-composite alternative to traditional plaster and plasterboard, giving buildings everywhere a new set of lungs, as he puts it.

Enjoy the show.

You can find out more about Tom and the Adaptavate team on their website.

Tom Robinson, founder of Adaptavate

Tom Robinson, founder of Adaptavate

Tom has won many awards and plaudits for his Breathaboard product

Tom has won many awards and plaudits for his Breathaboard product

The Breathaboard up close

The Breathaboard up close


This week's news round up with Vikki Knowles featured:

- Management Today's piece on whether it is right governments are naming and shaming non-compliance
- The edie.net Premier League sustainability quiz
- Rio's environmental Olympic legacy
- Waitrose's new pasta packaging


Episode #29 - ByFusion: Building the blocks to eliminate ocean waste

Episode 29 supported by:

Show notes

On the right is a picture of RePlast, an exciting new building block made entirely from plastic recovered from the ocean where it has been continuously dumped for generations.

While its viable applications are yet to be fully determined, the man behind the business bringing RePlast to life believes his company has a chance to take advantage of the 'perfect storm' brewing as the world wakes up to a huge problem which sees between 4 and 12 million tonnes of plastic spewed into our oceans every year.

By 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

So, this week we explore RePlast, the company behind it, ByFusion, and its CEO Gregor Gomory, to discuss how RePlast is made, how it is being used (it has similar thermal characteristics to straw bales), and how to stay upbeat in the face of such a mammoth hill to climb in solving the issue of ocean plastic waste.

For more on ByFusion, check out the website. I also wrote this piece on the business for Sustainable Brands a few weeks back.

You can also find Gregor on Twitter and LinkedIn too.


This week's news round up with Vikki Knowles featured:

- The 8 pieces of tech PwC thinks you cannot ignore right now;
- The solar-powered plane that has just circumnavigated the globe;
- The company turning China's smog into diamonds. Yes, diamonds!; and
- High street fashion chain Zara's alleged plagiarism.


Our 'Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future' segment of the show, in association with Terrafiniti, concludes this week. We launched it to celebrate the launch of Terrafiniti's brand new series of e-books which offer thoughts, provocations and big ideas for how we might create a sustainable future on a planet of 9 billion people.

The Towards 9 Billion ebook series is out now and can be downloaded for free at the Terrafiniti website.

Episode #6 - Ecovative, the mushroom packaging guys

The thing you notice when you’ve got kids is the amount of packaging that comes with their toys – and the amount of waste created at Christmas and birthday time.

The proliferation of deliveries and goods being shipped around now that we all use the internet to buy stuff, is exacerbating the problem.

But packaging is big business. A recent report says that the demand for protective packaging in America is set to grow by almost 5% a year to a $6.8 billion industry by 2019 thanks to internet shopping.

Packaging is a necessity but its clearly something that needs to be tackled.

Right now, the trend within the FMCG sector is for the light-weighting of packaging. However, making plastics and films thinner and thinner is not necessarily the answer. For one thing, it makes the packaging harder and harder to recycle, creating increasingly non-circular systems.

There’s an interesting report by Use Less Stuff says that, in fact, larger product packaging sizes are significantly more efficient than their smaller counterparts, regardless of material type.

The Body Shop’s new commitment to become the most sustainable business on the planet has an interesting specific target on packaging – to reduce the use of oil based plastic packaging by 70% by 2020. The cosmetics brand will explore a number of new academic, technology and research partnerships to pioneer new product packaging solutions, covering packaging, product design and product life extension strategies.

To kick things off it has announced a partnership with California-based Newlight Technologies to introduce AirCarbon in The Body Shop products - a thermoplastic material that behaves the same as the plastics, but rather than using oil as a carbon source for plastic, this innovation uses methane and carbon dioxide.

Packaging: it's a bit of a minefield.

The subject of this week's show – Ecovative – proves there is an environmentally sound way to create an alternative to plastic or styrofoam packaging material? It has also found a viable alternative to formaldehyde materials used in the construction industry.

Check out Eben Bayer's story – the co-founder of the business which has been slowing transforming the packaging and building materials sectors with its biomaterials – and, most notably, its mushroom materials.

Here's some pics of Eben, his co-founder partner Gavin McIntyre, and a range of products and applications (including the GYI kit Eben mentions during this week's show).

You can check out Ecovative's website here. And follow the business on Twitter, and Facebook.

A big thank you to Vikki Knowles' contribution this week...more from Viks next week. The report on predictions for the luxury sector that she mentions in her piece is here. And the Asda wonky vegs story is here.