Built by Nature launches global prize for biobased construction innovation

Prize to accelerate market entry of biobased construction innovations.

Built by Nature, a network and grant-making body located in the Netherlands, has published details of a global competition with a €500,000 (AUD $838,000) prize pool, dedicated to promoting and enhancing the use of biobased construction materials.

This initiative marks the first of its kind on a global scale, focusing exclusively on materials such as timber, bamboo, hemp, straw, algae, and fungi for building construction.

The motivation behind the prize is to reduce the amount of CO2 directly attributable to the construction industry, which presently accounts for around 40% of global emissions.

The intention is to shift the construction industry towards sustainably sourced timber and other renewable biobased materials, and further aims to mitigate climate change by decarbonising urban and the built environment.

The Built by Nature Prize is geared to identify and support biobased material producers worldwide, encouraging them to break into the mainstream market with their solutions.

Paul King, CEO of Built by Nature, emphasises the urgency of this initiative: “Given the scale of urban development that is inevitable around the world over the coming decades, we simply cannot afford to build in the way we have in most of Europe for the last few hundred years. We urgently need to find innovative, renewable, low-carbon construction materials to radically reduce the embodied carbon footprint of new buildings and cities.”

Since its inception in October 2021, Built by Nature has rapidly expanded its European network, now comprising over 1,300 entities devoted to transforming the building industry. This Prize is a significant step towards expanding their influence and making a deeper impact globally. To date, the organisation has allocated €3.3 million in grants, along with €2.2 million in co-funding, supporting 28 projects across Europe that focus on biobased materials, particularly mass timber.

The Prize’s international jury panel includes eminent figures from various sectors, including the built environment, architecture, finance, social value, and biomaterials. Dr Yasmeen Lari, Pakistan’s first female architect known for her work at the nexus of architecture and social justice, will serve as the Honorary Advisor. The jury comprises:

  • Arief Rabik, Chair and Founder of Bamboo Village Trust and CEO of PT Indobamboo Lestari, Indonesia.
  • Ariel Shtarkman, Managing Partner of Undivided Ventures and co-Founder of Atom Assets.
  • Mae-ling Lokko, Assistant Professor at Yale University’s School of Architecture, specialising in agrowaste and biobased materials.
  • Stig Hessellund, Architect and project manager at Realdania, focusing on sustainable development in construction.
  • Ana Belizario, head of business development at Brazilian mass timber producer Urbem.

The prize will award €250,000 (AUD $419,000) to the overall winner, with the selection criteria focusing on the potential for significant carbon emissions reduction and benefits to nature and local communities. Three additional prizes of €50,000 (AUD $83,800) each will be given to runners-up, and €100,000 (AUD $167,600) in discretionary funds will be reserved for other promising projects. Qualifying solutions must primarily consist of biomaterials, be market-ready, and demonstrate feasibility with current technology.

The application deadline is set for January 25, 2024, with winners to be announced on June 4. Prospective participants are encouraged to visit the Built by Nature Prize website for comprehensive details.

More details and enter HERE

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