Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Barbara Corsico

Houses made from rice

Springwise ChangeNOW

An Italian company is producing natural building materials made from rice waste

Spotted: The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the buildings and construction industry was responsible for 39 per cent of process and energy-related carbon emissions in 2018, 11 per cent of which come from the production of building materials. Italy-based architectural firm Ricehouse is on a mission to build houses more sustainably, by using rice by-products. 

The company uses natural waste residues, such as rice straw, husk, and chaff from the rice industry to create circular construction materials, including thermal insulating plasters, finishings, lightweight screeds, and prefabricated panels. Ricehouse obtains the waste directly from local farmers in northern Italy, where the company is based, and rice processing factories.

The company believes that engaging in the circular economy, by turning organic waste into a source of value, is vital to green construction and sustainable built environments. And once Ricehouse’s products reach the end of their usable lives, they can either be used in new products or harmlessly returned to nature to break down.

The products have high-performance acoustic insulation, as well as having high durability. And because the final rice-based products are effective thermal insulators, it will help houses achieve energy efficiency standards and cut carbon footprints associated with heating. They are also breathable and resistant to harmful biological agents such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi – making them mould-proof. Crucially, the products can be applied using traditional layering techniques and do not require the use of any specialised equipment. 

There are so many innovations promoting the circular economy in the construction industry by using waste as building materials. Springwise has spotted engineers in Australia that have used recycled glass to make fire-safe building claddings, and bricks that are made from cooking oil.

Written By: Anam Alam




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