The SB&WRC project is supported by the European program Interreg VA France (Channel) England and receives financial support from the ERDF.


What is ASBP about? What is their input into the SB&WRC project? What are their actions for sustainable buildings? The team answers all those questions.

Gary, Simon, Richard, Debbie. Tell me about the ASBP? (history, aims, activities etc.). How did ASBP get involved with the SBWRC project?

ASBP partly evolved from various concerns with the BRE Green Guide, soon after its launch in 2007. A range of colleagues felt the Guide was not actually fit for purpose and so needed improving. There was also a general lack of representation for bio-based/low impact products. Gary Newman teamed up with Neil May, to author the ASBP Critique of the Green Guide, which is still our most downloaded output. We got to know some European ecolabels and in particular natureplus, who were looking to find UK representatives and after a couple years of discussions, we worked with Jon Bootland at SDF to launch ASBP at the Palace of Westminster in 2011.

Our mission: To accelerate the transformation to a sustainable built environment and society, by championing the understanding and use of demonstrably sustainable building products

What we do

We’re all about the products. The physical stuff we build with. We champion products that are better for us and the environment as well as those companies and organisations prepared to push the boundaries. We seek to support industry to make better decisions and legislators to make better policy. We work from a position of independence from government and from short term commercial interests. We're driven by our mission and our legitimacy flows from our committed and diverse membership.

We have three main themes; Resource Efficiency, Health and Wellbeing and Sustainable Products

Resource Efficiency: Making better use of resources – particularly energy intensive materials such as steel and concrete - is essential to delivering low carbon buildings. We encourage better design for deconstruction, re-use, flexibility and adaptability. We champion products that better deliver the aspiration of the circular economy.

Health and Wellbeing: The best buildings are life enhancing and support our physical and mental health. Great design and healthy products enable delivery of a healthy internal environment - meaning good indoor air quality, natural lighting as well as excellent thermal and acoustic comfort. We showcase best practice, inform good design and champion healthy products.

Sustainable Products: Good decision making requires an informed and holistic approach. Products that are low embodied carbon, natural, non-toxic, locally made and healthy in use are preferred. We support the development of robust well governed standards and decision making tools to enable better specification and procurement.

ASBP events: Stimulate debate, challenge orthodoxy and champion best practice

The ASBP holds regular events, usually once a month, throughout the UK. We also attend and exhibit at trade shows and exhibitions across the country such as FutureBuild & Resource, Timber Expo and London BUILD. Click here to see our Upcoming Events, and Past Events to see speaker presentations and videos. Our Expo Healthy Buildings 19 is on 28/2 at London South Bank; Plastics in Construction – Issues, Impacts and Alternatives’. Confirmed speakers include Professor Sean Smith from Napier and Professor Stephen Holgate and Professor Anna Stec and explorer and adventurer Emily Penn.

ASBP Research - Bridge the gap between theory and practice

New ideas and knowledge drives industrial innovation. By working with both industry and academia we seek to identify, oversee and communicate research in a way that leads to positive change. We focus on projects linked to our core themes of resource efficiency, health and well-being and product sustainability.

Develop and scrutinise sustainability standards

Credible sustainability standards are an essential tool for continuous improvement of the built environment. We are active in their development and improvement, we scrutinise their content and promote their use. Our focus is upon product standards such as Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), eco-labels, and health labels and with how these standards are valued in ‘balanced-score card’ approaches such as BREEAM and LEED. The ASBP is the UK representative of natureplus. For more information, visit

Provide evidence to inform better policy

We aim to influence policy largely through our research, communication and events programme. We campaign for better policy in areas such as embodied carbon reduction and on healthy products but we are engaged with all policy opportunities that influence the manufacture, specification and use of construction products. Some policy papers that the ASBP have been involved with are listed below.

Gary Newman Simon Corbey Katherine Adams Debbie Mauger Richard Broad Mark Lynn

Gary, Simon, Richard, Debbie, Katherine and Mark tell me a bit about your backgrounds. What is ASBP’s experience of working with bio-based materials?

Gary Newman, Exec chair, has been working with natural products his whole life. Gary is a construction engineer by training and early career. After completing a wood science masters, Gary became inspired by the technical potential of natural construction products, and now has over 25 years experience in the development, manufacturing and marketing of natural fibre geotextiles and natural insulation products. Gary is chair of Wood Knowledge Wales and Director of Plant Fibre Technology Ltd, a company focused on the technical development of bio-based materials.

Gary chairs our natural fibre insulation group. A group of ASBP members have come together to establish the Natural Fibre Insulation Group (NFIG) and through collaborative actions aim to better communicate the benefits of natural insulation products and systems.

Simon Corbey, our Director, is a Chartered Surveyor, with a Masters in Architecture; Advanced Energy and Environmental Systems from UEL/CAT with a thesis on the BedZED lessons. He worked at Construction Resources (London’s first green building store); BioRegional, based at BedZed, where his duties included a LCA of B&Qs product range and setting up One Planet Products. Simon has worked under the umbrella organisation of the Sustainable Development Foundation, initially working for the Good Homes Alliance and now working for the ASBP to enable real change in the industry and help deliver low carbon healthy buildings. His work with the ASBP concentrates on seminars and learning events but also includes liaising with members and involvement with policy. Simon lectures at UCL and has written a number of outputs on Healthy Buildings.

Katherine Adams, ASBP Technical lead has over 20 years’ experience in waste management, working in both the municipal and construction sectors. At BRE, she has managed the resource efficiency work area, including many projects for public and private clients, in the UK and abroad, for the provision of advice, consultancy and research in relation to the waste hierarchy. She has also been responsible for the software platform, SmartWaste, which enables the collection and analysis of environmental data on construction sites. She was also seconded to Government, to assist in the development of waste management policy and regulation.

Debbie Mauger, Socail Media Executive provides support across our social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. She has a keen interest in sustainable building being a member of Centre for Alternative Technology as well as the AECB. Debbie is also Communications Officer for the STBA (Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance).

Richard Broad, Projects and Marketing Associate provides technical and design support for our events, communications and marketing. He project manages our Natural Fibre Insulation sub-group, SB&WRC Interreg research project and ASBP Awards. He also designed and now maintains our website. He also works in a similar role for our sister organisations; the Passivhaus Trust, the Good Homes Alliance and the Sustainable Development Foundation. Alongside this, Richard provides web and graphic design services through his own company, RossoBlu Design. Richard has a BA in Sustainable Design from the University of Nottingham and a Master’s degree in Architectural Technology from Sheffield Hallam University.

Mark Lynn, ASBP Vice Chair And Director at Thermafleece/ Eden Renewables has over 18 years’ experience of natural building materials in the fields of natural insulation and timber preservation. Mark has been Managing Director of Eden Renewable Innovations Ltd for the past 5 years and is passionate about making the best use of local resources, minimising waste and ensuring that sustainability, performance and quality go hand in hand.  He has a strong scientific and commercial background, being a graduate of chemistry and having completed his MBA at the University of Edinburgh in 2001. In addition to his current positions, Mark has worked throughout the world in technical and commercial roles whilst with Rentokil Timber Preserving and has 5 years management consultancy experience. He is a Chartered Environmentalist and Full Member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment. He is also a member of the ASBP Board.

Katherine, you have recently joined the ASBP team as Technical/Research Associate. What is your background and knowledge of the circular economy. What are your thoughts on developing construction products from waste sources?

Most of my experience relates to the construction sector, where I have been working in the area of construction waste for over 15 years. I am currently undertaking a PhD at Loughborough University, looking at how a circular economy can be embedded in the building sector, with a view to publishing in the Spring next year. I have also ‘dabbled’ with municipal waste, whilst at the University of Northampton where I undertook research on and the role of the householder and the local authority in providing better services and best value.

The term ‘circular economy’ is becoming increasingly commonplace and in its simplest form it describes how products and materials can continue to be used again once they have reached the end of their ‘first’ life. It is very much about viewing waste as a resource, so for example an input into another product, rather than being disposed of. Materials and products therefore move in loops within the activities of reuse, remanufacture and recycling (see Figure 1).  The circular economy is the opposite of the ‘take-make-dispose’ linear economy model. A key principle is that materials should be utilised at the highest value possible, avoiding down-cycling (this is when materials lose their value, for example, crushing and recycling a brick into a fill material). However, currently, much of the waste the construction sector produces is down-cycled.

Figure 1:  Circular economy strategies (Source: David Cheshire, AECOM)

To enable products and buildings to become more circular, it is important to consider how they are designed. Important considerations for products include designing for disassembly, the potential for standardisation and modularity, the use of secondary materials, avoiding the use of hazardous materials and composite materials which may hinder reuse and recycling opportunities. The actual approach will depend on the type of product, for example a high-value, shorter lived product such as M&E equipment may be more suitable for reuse, than a lower-value, longer-lived product such as concrete.

The construction sector is increasingly using recycled and secondary materials within their products as it makes economic and environmental sense. This may be waste from their own products (during processing or end of life), such as glass and plasterboard or waste from other sectors, such as the processing of plastic bottles into plastic pipes or the use of ash from energy to waste incinerators as an aggregate. To make this work, the recycled and secondary materials need to be of good quality and consistent in their supply. Obviously, any product that uses recycled and secondary materials needs to perform adequately and meet the required standards. Due to the construction sectors large use of materials and the increased cost in raw materials and the volatility in their price, then feedstocks of recycled and secondary materials are likely to become more commonplace.  Of course, we should ensure that their use does provide an overall environmental benefit.

Do you think the prototype products have a good chance of being adopted by the mainstream market, and why? Are there any significant barriers?

This Interreg project has focussed to date on the development stage of 3 new insulation products and we are now just beginning to consider how these products will be sold into the market, what their USPs are and their price points, possible development partners and early marketing strategies. The UK insulation market is worth approximately £1bn in total. However, natural insulation products currently have a tiny market share of this total market, at less than 1%. Whereas in France, market share for natural products is higher and stands at about 6/7%, so there is much more market penetration in France. Thus, UK manufactures and UK government have a lot to learn from our French colleagues on how to grow the UK market and the local manufacturing base.

The experience of our commercial partners in the ASBP Natural Fibre Insulation Group will be crucial to the success of these products in the UK market. We have seen many times, new products launched into the market, only for companies to stagnate and fail. We are beginning to apply circular economy principles much more but there needs to be encouragement from clients and government and the development of robust procurement tools.

How do you think the research project will benefit the programme area (south west UK, north west France)? And the wider area?

We have developed a strong team bond and we are looking forward to getting together at LondonBuild on 23rd October 2018. We have convened a project seminar at 13.00;

Innovating with low impact materials

  • Material re-use and the circular economy – Duncan Baker-Brown – Lecturer, University of Brighton and Director, BBM Sustainable Design
  • Bio-materials for healthier buildings – Pete Walker – Professor, University of Bath and Director, BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials
  • Insulation: It’s more than just U-values – Mark Lynn, Vice-Chair, Alliance for Sustainable Building Products and Managing Director of Eden Renewables
  • We also have a session focussing on the circular economy at 13:40 Re-usable buildings
  • Circular economy in the built environment – Katherine Adams, Technical and Research Associate, Alliance for Sustainable Building Products and PhD Researcher at Loughborough University
  • Making the case for re-usable buildings – Graham Hilton, Chairman, Ecobond Cymru and Board Member, Alliance for Sustainable Building Products
  • London’s Circular Economy Route Map – Clare Ollerenshaw, Circular Economy Manager, London Waste and Recycling Board
  • Opportunities and threats for steel re-use – Roy Fishwick, Managing Director, Cleveland Steel and Tubes Ltd.

Please come and visit us at stand no. H9

The project partners have all benefited from this intensive collaboration and we’re looking forward to our project team meeting in Rouen in December. The University of Brighton’s Waste House has been voted the 3rd most influential eco friendly show homes and qualified for the finals of the Green Solutions Awards 2018 in the Low Carbon category.

After three years of research and a week of haggling between scientists and government officials at a meeting in South Korea, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a special report on the impact of global warming of 1.5C. The report says there must be rapid and significant changes in four big global systems: energy • land use • cities • industry. The report says to limit warming to 1.5C, will involve "annual average investment needs in the energy system of around $2.4 trillion" between 2016 and 2035.


Last updated on the 01-02-2019 by Alexia ROBIN


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