Project Details


Academics from the University of Brighton are working with academic partners from UniLaSalle in Rouen, ESITC Caen, and the University of Bath, together with waste management company Veolia, UoB's Community 21, the Alliance for Sustainable Building Product (ASBP), and French construction industry digital platform Construction 21, to develop three separate prototype panels of insulation material suitable for the social housing sector.

The source material for these panels should be waste flows located near to the pilot test sites in Rouen, the Brighton Waste House, and Bath. The SB&WRC project aims at designing and producing 3 prototypes of thermal insulation for buildings, made from bio-based and waste-based raw materials. These 3 prototypes will be produced respectively from agricultural co-products, ie., 'Prototype 1','Prototype 1','Prototype 1rapeseed and corn stems with elements from pith, Prototype 2, (UniLaSalle, Rouen), textile waste and terracotta waste developed by University of Brighton and 'Prototype 3' wheat straw developed by University of Bath. The Prototype's carbon footprint will be at least 25% lower than that of standard insulants (neither bio-based nor waste based) on the market (such as glass wool and rock wool). In doing so, the project aims at proposing new solutions which allow, by exploiting waste and agricultural co-products from the area, both to reduce CO2 emissions and to preserve natural resources such as construction minerals used in the production of the most widespread insulation such as glass wool and rock wool (global demand for construction minerals tripled between 1980 and 2010 (OECD, Materials resources, Productivity and the Environment, 2015).

The project also aims at raising French and English construction stakeholders’ awareness of the advantages of these materials in order to encourage them to further develop prototypes and commercialise them and accelerate the uptake of these materials. Thus professionals will be invited to a series of events through the life of the project, workshops, site demonstrations, and an online community and online survey.
The originality of the project notably lies in its methodology: designing prototypes based on the existence of common, widely available, and under-exploited waste and agricultural co-products over the area. It involves cross-boarder cooperation as both sides of the channel can make use of these widely available products and it provides access to a range of rare skills and technical equipment to enable the valorisation of waste material flows from the agricultural and textile industries.

The Waste House (UoB) will be used as the pilot site testing Prototype 2. The project team will also utilise testing facilities (climatic chamber etc) at the Building Research Park in Swindon, as well as laboratories at University of Bath, UniLaSalle in Rouen, and ESITC Caen. UoB team will work with the Community 21 digital platform to map local material waste flows. 

Working with waste management company Veolia and Community 21, The University of Brighton team are developing their prototype made from duvets discarded by graduating students. At present no duvets in the UK are re-used. Duvets are ready-made insulation quilts and need no re-processing, just cleaning! The prototype will be installed into part of the external wall of the multi-award-winning Waste House where it will be monitored to understand its thermal performance, ie. how well it insulates. In addition the UoB team working with Local Works Studio are creating external wall tiles (to protect the duvet insulation from the weather) made from waste oyster shells (from local restaurants) and aggregates from the Preston Barracks construction site opposite the School of Architecture and Design. The findings of these experiments have been discussed with representatives of the French and UK construction industry to ensure that they are commercially viable.

Layman's description

Key findings

At the point of drafting this text, the University of Brighton team had not completed the research described above. However we can disclose initial findings.

Working in partnership with Veolia we discovered that discarded bedding materials (duvets, pillows) are not re-used or recycled in the UK. Therefore we are currently constructing three versions of Prototype 2 (one for testing in UniLaSalle in Rouen, one at the Building Research Park in Swindon, and the final version to be installed at the Brighton Waste House).

We are also constructing external wall tile for the Brighton Waste version of Prototype 2. These tiles are manufactured from waste oyster shells procured from 'English's' Restaurant (they throw away over 50,000 shells annually) and construction waste from the Preston Barracks development. We hope to have one version of Prototype 2 installed in the Brighton Waste House in November 2018. The insulation panel will be monitored by UoB's Dr. Ryan Southall for moisture and temperature variation to enable an understanding to its actual thermal performance ('U-Value').
Effective start/end date1/08/1731/10/19


  • Interreg VA FCE


  • bio-waste
  • textile waste
  • construction waste
  • reuse
  • circular economy
  • sustainable design


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