Researchers catalogue sustainable materials

Kingston University researchers have catalogued more than 1,000 different sustainable materials that can be used in the construction industry.

The result is a materials library called ’Rematerialise’, which was launched at Ecobuild, the world’s largest event for showcasing sustainable design and construction practices, at Excel in London’s Docklands this March.

Reader in sustainable design Jakki Dehn has been developing Rematerialise at Kingston University’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture for 17 years and believes that designers will find it invaluable when planning new products.

Several firms have already drawn on Dehn’s expertise to help with projects. Product-design company Jedco, based in Weybridge in Surrey, has developed a scaffolding board made from recycled polymers and a solar-powered bus stop.

’The scaffolding boards have proved useful on oil rigs, because, unlike wood, they don’t absorb water. So, in this case, the sustainable product is actually better than the material it’s replacing,’ Dehn said.

Dehn began her research into sustainable materials in 1994 and received Arts and Humanities Research Council funding in 2003. Rematerialise now houses more than 1,200 materials from 15 different countries. It contains recycled materials, products made from resources that are very plentiful and easy to regrow, and products made from resources that are not generally used very much.

The university hopes eventually to put the entire library online so planners can do initial research before making an appointment to view the materials themselves at Kingston University’s Knights Park campus.

Resilica is one of more than 1,000 materials in the library. Used to make kitchen worktops as an alternative to granite or formica, it is made mainly of glass recycled from cars and building sites.