Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Growing Alternative Sustainable Buildings: Bio-composite Products from Natural Fiber, Biodegradable and Recyclable Polymer Materials for Load-bearing Construction Components

EPA Grant Number: SU832512
Title: Growing Alternative Sustainable Buildings: Bio-composite Products from Natural Fiber, Biodegradable and Recyclable Polymer Materials for Load-bearing Construction Components
Investigators: Giles, Harry , Adams, Robert , Kim, Kyoung-Hee , Robertson, Richard , Skerlos, Steven J.
Current Investigators: Norton, Richard K. , Brix, Andrew , Brydon, Trevor , Davidian, Eli , Dinse, Keely , Levine, Jonathan , Vidyarthi, Sanjeev
Institution: University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: September 30, 2005 through May 30, 2006
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The project is an integrative educational and research project that will revolutionize design and construction methods towards more sustainable buildings. The project will develop and test new product design concepts using bio-composite materials in load-bearing and façade elements in buildings, derived from natural fibers combined with bio-polymers or thermoplastic recyclable polymers to form matrix materials that result in a product that is derived from biodegradable, renewable and recyclable resources. The challenge will be to develop alternative and innovative design concepts that optimize on the unique properties of these materials.

These building components are targeted as the main products for construction in the context of economy, manufacturing, energy conservation, thermal performance, structural strength, durability, construction, end use and disposal. The project will integrate the disciplines of architecture, structural engineering, environmental technology, materials science, industrial engineering and natural resources, in order to address the interdisciplinary nature of buildings and their environmental impact. We have included practitioner partners from the automotive, architecture and manufacturing industries to collaborate on product development. The design concepts will be evaluated through professional practice peer review, materials and manufacturing analysis, prototyping, laboratory testing, computational simulation and life cycle analysis. The positive implications for P3 will be to encourage non-food farming to supply materials for ‘growing’ buildings, serving to preserve the planet’s natural resources, promote agricultural diversity and increase prosperity for agricultural communities across all nations. The pedagogical value of this project will be translated to hundreds of students through the different disciplines into a number of senior capstone engineering and architecture technology courses in each of the associated colleges.

Supplemental Keywords:

ecological effects, bioavailability, ecosystem, habitat, integrated assessment, green chemistry, life-cycle analysis, alternatives, sustainable development, clean technologies, innovative technology, renewable, waste reduction, waste minimization, cost benefit, public good, conservation, environmental assets, engineering, ecology, analytical, EPA regions, agriculture, industry, building construction, manufacturing methods, technology transfer, product design, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Energy, Chemistry and Materials Science, Environmental Engineering, environmentally preferable products, cleaner production, sustainable development, green design, natural pozzolans, clean technology, alternative materials, green home building, energy efficiency, pollution prevention design, product life cycle, construction material, hydraulic cement, bio-composite products, environmentally conscious design, clean manufacturing designs, modular panelized construction system

Relevant Websites:

Phase 2 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report