Editorial Feature

Advancing Sustainable Construction with Mycelium-Based Solutions

Humanity’s impact on the natural world is a frequently discussed topic, with growing discourse around how we can live more harmoniously with nature. Recently, several innovative solutions to increase the sustainability of key sectors, such as construction, have been researched and developed.

Image Credit: Protasov AN/Shutterstock.com

Improving the Sustainability of Construction

Construction is one of the world’s key economic activities, facilitating the development of buildings necessary for domestic, commercial, and industrial purposes. With rapid urbanization and a growing world population, ever-increasing resources and energy are required to meet the demands of modern society.

While beneficial for human society, this rapid pace of development exacts a staggering environmental cost. For instance, concrete production and usage alone contribute to approximately 8 % of total global carbon dioxide emissions. Resources such as sand and limestone are also limited, with many experts agreeing that a sustainability crisis related to global resources is rapidly approaching.

According to reports by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the global construction sector is not on target to achieve its decarbonization aims by 2050, despite notable progress in reducing energy consumption and exploring alternative green materials and processes. Unfortunately, the gap between the sector’s climate performance and the pathway toward decarbonization is widening.

Mycelium: A Sustainable Solution for Construction

All industrial sectors must profoundly and rapidly change their operational models to meet their sustainable development aims by 2050 and mitigate their environmental impact.

Traditional construction operates on a highly linear model: virgin, non-renewable resources are extracted and converted into useable building materials, which are then used in structures that are demolished at the end of their useable lifecycle. Building materials are then disposed of via means such as landfill.

Introducing a circular model of resource use has sparked significant discussion and research in recent years. Recycled aggregate, steel, and industrial byproducts have started to enter the sector. Mycelium is a green building material that has piqued the interest of researchers and architects.

Mycelium is the root-like structure of fungi. It is a fast-growing and replenishable material composed of a mass of branching hyphae with a thread-like structure. These hyphae root the fungal fruiting body into the substrate, such as soil or rock, cementing the organism and forming a solid block that acts as a glue.

Drying mycelium produces a strong, solid, low-density material that can be used for various construction purposes. As well as its strength properties, mycelium is fire, water, and mold-resistant and provides acoustic and thermal insulation benefits. It has a low carbon footprint and environmental impact, is extremely cost-effective, and is biodegradable.

However, this material has some drawbacks: it has low structural strength and is prone to excess drying when exposed to the environment, which can compromise its resistance to moisture and mold. Despite these challenges, mycelium has emerged as a viable construction material for insulating panels and bricks, boasting excellent acoustic and thermal properties.

Mycocrete: A Sustainable Alternative to Concrete

Using mycelium-based materials as an alternative to environmentally damaging concrete is an emerging research focus in the construction industry. However, full commercialization of this technology remains some distance away.

Mycocrete is an interesting concrete alternative developed by researchers in the UK and Belgium. A mycelium paste is injected into a knitted formwork to prepare strong, tough, and adaptable structural blocks with high design flexibility. Once the optimal density is attained, the material is dried. The molds are oxygen-permeable, creating the ideal conditions for mycelial growth.

Symbiocene Living: Exploring the Potential of Mycelial Building Solutions

Some experts have coined the term “Symbiocene,” referring to a potential future era where humans live symbiotically with nature. “Symbiocene Living,” an installation by PLP Architects at Clerkenwell Design Week in 2023, explored how mycelium composites could play a role in the future of the construction industry.

The installation focused on everyday objects, such as planters, chairs, and tables made from mycelium. The biodegradability of these solutions facilitates a cradle-to-cradle type of design thought. A 3D-printed wood formwork was packed with substrate and mycelium to produce blocks that could be used in these applications.

INBUILT: Testing Sustainable Construction Solutions Including Mycelium

Horizon Europe has recently launched INBUILT, a mission to explore and accelerate the uptake of sustainable construction solutions in the EU. By introducing innovative green solutions to the market, the project aims to significantly reduce the entire lifecycle carbon footprint of buildings.

Four demonstration buildings will be constructed across Europe, one of which will be built in the UK and incorporate several innovative green technologies, including fungal-based insulation. Other solutions the project explores include hybrid straw-clay boards, rammed earth blocks, and recycled concrete blocks.


As the construction industry enters a new era of innovation to tackle the vast problems posed by a changing climate and world, bold solutions will be needed to meet its goals. Mycelium is a renewable, low-cost, and low-carbon footprint material that could play a significant role in its future.

This potentially revolutionary green building material represents just one of the many solutions currently being explored by the construction industry. With increasing international interest in mycelium, the next few years will likely be crucial in its journey to becoming a standard material within the construction industry.

More from AZoBuild: What Role Could Biodegradable Materials Play in Building and Construction?

References and Further Reading

The Constructor. (no date). Mycelium as a Construction Material. [Online] The Constructor. Available at:https://theconstructor.org/building/building-material/mycelium-construction-material/565623/

University of Bath. (2024). New materials including fungi-based insulation to be tested for sustainable building potential. [Online] University of Bath. Available at: https://www.bath.ac.uk/announcements/new-materials-including-fungi-based-insulation-to-be-tested-for-sustainable-building-potential/

Souza, E. (2023). Symbiocene Living: Exploring the Potential of Mycelium Blocks for Sustainable Architecture. [Online] Archdaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/1004032/symbiocene-living-exploring-the-potential-of-mycelium-blocks-for-sustainable-architecture

Kaiser, R., et al. (2023) BioKnit: development of mycelium paste for use with permanent textile formwork Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2023.1229693/full

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Reginald Davey

Written by

Reginald Davey

Reg Davey is a freelance copywriter and editor based in Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Writing for AZoNetwork represents the coming together of various interests and fields he has been interested and involved in over the years, including Microbiology, Biomedical Sciences, and Environmental Science.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Davey, Reginald. (2024, March 06). Advancing Sustainable Construction with Mycelium-Based Solutions. AZoBuild. Retrieved on July 18, 2024 from https://www.azobuild.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=8670.

  • MLA

    Davey, Reginald. "Advancing Sustainable Construction with Mycelium-Based Solutions". AZoBuild. 18 July 2024. <https://www.azobuild.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=8670>.

  • Chicago

    Davey, Reginald. "Advancing Sustainable Construction with Mycelium-Based Solutions". AZoBuild. https://www.azobuild.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=8670. (accessed July 18, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Davey, Reginald. 2024. Advancing Sustainable Construction with Mycelium-Based Solutions. AZoBuild, viewed 18 July 2024, https://www.azobuild.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=8670.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.