Today’s cities are ever-growing, especially in the Global South, inducing massive construction activity.
To satisfy these needs we need feasible and environmentally sustainable construction materials, the use of local solutions and, if possible, to enable synergies between sectors for maximum environmental benefit.
In South Africa and beyond, invasive alien plants are threatening the indigenous ecosystem while exacerbating water security by affecting water surface runoff and fueling wildfires that release carbon to the atmosphere.
Bio-based construction materials can turn buildings into carbon pools. However, the dynamics of using bio-based materials at the urban scale are not yet well known. A new type of structural and non-structural “noncrete”, using invasive alien wood chips as a substitute for sand and gravel as aggregates, is now available to the construction industry.
The material is optimized within technical possibilities achieving the capture of 897 kg of CO2 equivalents per m3.
The optimized mix design using invasive alien plants as an alternative resource, combined with a policy that promotes multi-story buildings, offers great potential to achieve near carbon neutral cities, clearing land of invasive alien plants and thus saving annual water surface runoff.