UK Company Aims to Insulate Homes With Mushrooms

Mushrooms in a person's hands

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Construction waste is filling landfills. The construction and demolition industry has about double the amount of trash as all the other waste in cities, Fast Company reports. Companies are searching for nontraditional sources to eliminate some of that landfill waste and keep costs down.

Biohm, a biomanufacturing startup firm based in the United Kingdom, plans to start mass production of insulation made from mushrooms—actually their mycelium component, the thread-like roots that connect mushrooms. The company says biodegradable insulation outperforms the more common foam. It’s also slower to burn in a fire.

“Mycelium is usually found in forests, underground, and it holds the topsoil together,” Ehab Sayed, founder and director of innovation at Biohm, told the World Economic Forum in March. “It allows plants to connect to one another—it’s like nature’s internet. And we grow that into an insulation panel that can provide superior insulation values compared to other alternatives on the market.”

The company says its tests show mycelium to be as durable as a standard insulation. And at the end of its useful life, it can be reused or composted, unlike traditional insulation.

The company says it uses natural materials and does not add formaldehyde or other chemicals like flame retardants that other insulation may use.

Biohm is also working on developing plant-based concrete and a fiberboard alternative made with food waste. Orange peels, cocoa husks, and other food waste are all part of the company’s new building materials.

The building industry is looking for alternatives for construction, particularly given ongoing shortages and to lessen their carbon footprint in building homes. Some companies are also looking to help homeowners save money on utility costs with newer products, even a new fresh coat of paint. Read more: Ultra-White Paint Could Cool Homes Better Than Air Conditioning