Mushrooms Anyone?

Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, two graduates of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Vermont, were given an assignment two years ago to create a new sustainable form of insulation. Rather than taking the route that people usually choose when creating a sustainable product, using recycled material, they chose to grow their material themselves.

mushroomThe idea was to create an organic insulation made from mushrooms. They call their product “Greensulate”. It is an organic, fire-retardant board made of water, flour, oyster mushroom spores and perlite, a mineral blend found in potting soil. In the future they hope to see their product as a competitor on the growing market for eco-friendly products.

Greensulate is comparable to most insulation brands on the market today in terms of R-value according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. A one-inch thick (2.54-centimetre) sample of the perlite-mushroom composite had a 2.9 R-value. RPI professor Burt Swersy believes the idea has a lot of potential. “It’s sustainable, and enviro-friendly, it’s not based on petrochemicals and doesn’t require much energy or cost to make it,” he says.

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