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PhD student scoops international award for vision to create vegan friendly buildings

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An innovative PhD student has been awarded a major global architecture award for his idea to create vegan-friendly buildings made of natural materials, such as mushrooms.

Ehab Sayed, who is currently studying for a PhD in Architecture at Northumbria University, has been named the winner of the COINS Grand Challenge for Global Leadership.

Thousands of people from across the world applied for the awards and Ehab was shortlisted for his work to bring biomimetic – or nature inspired – materials and construction systems into the construction industry.

Ehab founded his business, Biohm, in 2016, and has been working on ways to enable the use of natural products within construction. He has developed a range of eco-friendly construction materials that are completely natural, biodegradable and vegan. They not only consume waste and carbon during production, but some also purify the air during occupation.

His team has developed building insulation made of mycelium – the vegetative part of a mushroom – which is not only environmentally friendly due to the aerative properties of mushrooms, but also fully meets fire safety standards as mycelium is naturally self-extinguishing. In fact, his products are so environmentally friendly that if just 150 buildings were constructed using them each year in the UK, it would reduce the nation’s energy consumption by 300m kilowatt hours and divert 10m tonnes of waste from landfill, valued at £35m and £5bn respectively.

Ehab commented: “My vision is quite ‘out there’ for the construction industry, so it was very surprising to win the COINS award, but also very interesting to see that the industry is ready to embrace biological materials when you can find a way to make it work.”

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