Diving letter:

  • Julee Herdt, Professor of Architecture at the University of Colorado in Denver, developed BioSIPS (Bio-Structural Insulated Panels), a non-petroleum product that can be used in construction to build walls, roofs and floors. The panels are made from waste materials such as flyers, phone books, seeds, hemp, cow dung and food waste.
  • Herdt, who began developing the product more than 20 years ago, received a patent this year with financial support from the university.
  • Herdt and her team expanded a house BioSIPS, which won first place in the US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon in 2002 and 2005. They also built their personal office, a 180 square foot, 6,000 pound house.

Dive Insight:

Recycling everyday products diverts waste from landfills and helps cities and states meet zero waste goals. While some garbage – – like styrofoam and ocean plastic – – can be converted into consumer goods such as clothing and home decor. The use of construction waste is a rare yet useful concept that is spreading around the world. In July, the Dutch company VolkerWessels announced that it was teaming up with the Dutch city of Rotterdam to use ocean plastic to build roads.

“Fossil fuels are a big part of the planet’s problems, overheating, environmental and health issues,” Herdt told the Denver Business Journal. “We’re finding ways to turn society’s waste into valuable, reusable building materials to replace petrochemicals.”

According to Herdt, no other companies make the same material for construction purposes. The next step for Herdt is to find customers and investors to take full advantage of the product.