Strong, Safe, Warm, Secure in a Mushroom House

November 23, 2013

Description:

Mushroom® Materials were inspired by the woods of Vermont as a replacement for plastic foams. Ecovative’s patented process combines agricultural byproducts with fungal mycelium, a natural, self-assembling binder, to literally grow high performance insulation. We grew a tiny house on a trailer as a radical demonstration of this technology, and this is now available for sale as a kit. The tiny house market is small but growing rapidly, and we see this as a proving ground for the $21B rigid board foam insulation market.

Rigid board insulation like extruded polystyrene is made of finite petrochemicals, and often includes high global-warming potential blowing gasses that seep out over time, lowering the aged R-value. Loose fill and batt insulation can settle, especially in a movable tiny house, which compromises effectiveness. In order to meet fire safety codes, nearly all rigid board and loose fill insulation materials are made with harsh flame retardant chemicals.

The Mushroom Tiny House has walls made of pine tongue and groove boards and hollow cavities with no studs. Within these walls, live Mushroom® Insulation is packed. In three days, the mycelium grows and solidifies these loose particles into air sealed insulation, while also adhering to the pine boards creating an extremely strong sandwich. The result is similar to a structural insulating panel (SIP); this layer of continuous insulation has no thermal bridging. Over the course of about a month, the Mushroom Insulation naturally dries and goes dormant. Mushrooms will only fruit through gaps or due to improper construction, and can be easily trimmed off with a knife before they produce spores. The Mushroom Tiny House fully embodies the Cradle to Cradle ethos.

Material health: We combine corn stalks from local farms with fungal tissue from local forests and grow a biobased material that has no synthetic chemicals and emits no VOCs.

Material reutilization: Mushroom® Insulation is primarily made from corn stalks, an agricultural byproduct. Just as wood will not rot in a properly built home, Mushroom Insulation will not degrade unless it is broken up and put in a compost pile.

Renewable energy: A hydroelectric plant powers our efficient bio-production process, and we buy BEF carbon offsets for our natural gas use.

Water stewardship: Little wasted water goes down the drain from our process, and there is nothing harmful in the effluent. Unlike plants, fungi do not need to be repeatedly watered.

Social fairness: Ecovative is creating green collar jobs and we are proud to be an equal opportunity company that empowers all employees to use their full potential to make planet Earth a better place.

The cost of Mushroom® Insulation is $0.25/board foot which is comparable to SIPs and is often cheaper than studs plus loose fill or batt insulation, when labor is valued. The insulation is performance competitive at R-3/inch and has superior strength characteristics. The Mushroom Tiny House was recently unveiled to much acclaim at the first ever Tiny House Fair at the Yestermorrow Design Build School in Vermont.

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25 Responses to “Strong, Safe, Warm, Secure in a Mushroom House”

  1. petermogensen Says:

    Admittedly … I haven’t checked the details, but I don’t get it.

    To be “cradle-to-cradle” doesn’t a material have to be either cleanly combustable, or decomposable?
    So if this material doesn’t burn, and doesn’t decompose when exposed to moisture. Then how is it disposed?


  2. Great idea …

    Couple points: (1) R-3 doesn’t seem like much insulation value and, more importantly, (2) “fungal tissue from local forests” are not indigenous species for much of the planet, so the introduction of these fungi in non-indigineous areas present as much biological risk as anything I can think of. (3) why can’t anyone create their own fungi-board with some instructions from the non-monetizing segment of the green community – then that might be affordable.

    Keep up the good work!

    “Mushrooms will only fruit through gaps or due to improper construction, and can be easily trimmed off with a knife before they produce spores. The Mushroom Tiny House fully embodies the Cradle to Cradle ethos.

    Material health: We combine corn stalks from local farms with fungal tissue from local forests and grow a biobased material that has no synthetic chemicals and emits no VOCs.

    Material reutilization: Mushroom® Insulation is primarily made from corn stalks, an agricultural byproduct. Just as wood will not rot in a properly built home, Mushroom Insulation will not degrade unless it is broken up and put in a compost pile.”


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