University creates on-line materials library for construction professionals to search 1200 products

Architects, developers and construction companies can now use a single website to research more than 1,200 eco-friendly building materials.

The initiative of Kingston University, the Rematerialise materials library helps visitors explore the potential of materials such as zelfo, a floor tile made from hemp, straw, tropical grasses and sugar cane, and resilica, made mainly of glass recycled from car windscreens and building sites, and used on kitchen tops.

The library is the result of 18 years research by Jakki Dehn, a reader at the university. She has been developing Rematerialise at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture for 18 years but it’s only now that the bulk of the library can be viewed on the website.

Dehn said: ‘We recently received a new type of flooring material called zelfo. The main ingredients are hemp, straw, tropical grasses and sugar cane.’ Another eye-catching material is resilica, which is used in kitchen worktops as an alternative to granite or formica. It’s made mainly of glass recycled from car windscreen and building sites.

She began her research into sustainable materials in 1994 and received Arts and Humanities Research Council funding in 2003. As word about the resource spread, new products started arriving on an almost daily basis. Rematerialise now houses materials from 15 different countries.