Built by Nature offers its first global prize worth €500,000 to reecognise innovation and stimulate scalability in the use of biobased materials in construction
We know from our work with construction professionals throughout the UK the importance of stimulating scalable innovation in products manufactured using sustainably sourced timber and renewable biobased materials such as timber, bamboo, hemp, straw, algae, and fungi. Generating up to 40% of the world’s greenhouse gases, the built environment offers huge potential in the application of tangible, realistic solutions that address climate change through decarbonisation of our cities and buildings.
“Where was this prize twenty-five years ago when I was running my hemp factory?” exclaimed Gary Newman, CEO, Woodknowledge Wales. “It is fantastic to see initiatives like this supporting development of nature-based solutions, which are so critical to the sustainability and decarbonisation agenda. The need for such support is essential to regenerating the natural and build environments throughout the world.”
The Built by Nature Prize, totalling €500,000, is supported by Laudes Foundation and LTPP, aims to identify and attract biobased construction material manufacturers and their market-ready innovations from all regions and help those producers overcome barriers to mainstream market entry.
“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,” said Paul King, Built by Nature CEO.
Built by Nature, a network and grant-making fund, has awarded €3.3 million in grants to date with additional co-funding of €2.2 million toward 28 projects across Europe focused on developing solutions to overcome barriers and stimulate increased uptake of biobased materials, with a focus on mass timber.
To reflect the global scope of the Prize, the judging panel is comprised of leading experts from the built environment, architecture, finance, social value, and biomaterials from around the world. Dr Yasmeen Lari, Pakistan’s first female architect and renowned for her leadership at the intersection of architecture and social justice, will serve as Honorary Advisor to the Built by Nature Prize. The Prize jury members are:
- Arief Rabik – Chair and Founder of Bamboo Village Trust, and founder and CEO of PT Indobamboo Lestari in Indonesia.
- Ariel Shtarkman – Managing Partner of Undivided Ventures, co-Founder and Managing Director of Atom Assets.
- Mae-ling Lokko, from Ghana and the Philippines, is Assistant Professor at Yale University’s School of Architecture, specialising in agrowaste and biobased materials.
- Stig Hessellund – Architect and project manager with Realdania, with a primary focus on sustainable development in the construction industry.
- Ana Belizario is head of business development at Brazilian mass timber producer Urbem.
The prize’s overall winner will receive an award of €250,000 with the criteria focusing on the demonstrated potential for significant carbon emissions reduction and benefits to nature and local communities.
Three runners-up prizes of €50,000 each will also be awarded based on the same criteria, with €100,000 in discretionary funds reserved for promising projects judged to be worthy of support.
To qualify, proposed solutions must be composed primarily of biomaterials with primary use intended for the built environment; indicate that the product can be successfully manufactured and implemented using currently available technology, and the product/service must already be in market, whether through an early-stage pilot project or openly available.
In addition to the prize money, valuable exposure and storytelling opportunities, benefits to award recipients will include introductions across Built by Nature’s extensive frontrunner and partner networks for mentoring support, access to potential investors and new markets, and facilitated connections to peers facing similar challenges and opportunities around the world. By promoting public and industry awareness and education around the potential benefits and applications of the materials solutions, the winners will directly contribute to Built by Nature’s vision and mission.
The deadline for applications is January 25, 2024, with final winners to be announced on June 4. Interested applicants are encouraged to visit the Built by Nature Prize website for full details.