ASTM International New Guide for the Use of Agricultural Fiber in Construction


1. Scope

This standard provides guidance for the use of agricultural fiber in building products. There is a great range of agricultural products in various stages of development for a great range of building products. This guide primarily addresses the use of the residues of food production, such as straw and seed hulls, but also includes the use of plants or plant parts grown specifically for their utility, such as hemp and bamboo. This guide explicitly does not cover the use of wood or other forest products, which are covered by many other standards.

The construction industry has always been by far the biggest user of physical materials, and the products and by-products of farming have always been a part of the builders palette. In the past few centuries, natural fibers, oils and ashes have fallen from favor with the advent of the Industrial Revolution and its signature, intense use of fossil fuels. With the supply and cost of those fossil fuels becoming increasingly uncertain, materials dependent on them as feedstock and/or production energy will become more expensive and their supply uncertain. In this context the renewed use of agricultural residues, especially for insulation and structure, becomes more and more appealing: supplies of oil and gas will vary, but for so long as we grow food we will have agricultural by-products, and usually from nearby. This standard guide will provide a framework within which a great number of products now in development can enter the marketplace, such as fibrous blocks and panels, hemp insulation, bamboo, and straw bale buildings.

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