For EU countries, the European Green Deal has set ambitious objectives to become climate-neutral by 2050. Global challenge is to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to obtain prosperity and sustainable economic development. To accomplish this goal, actions across all economic sectors are needed.
“The built environment has a significant impact on many sectors of the economy, on local jobs and quality of life. It requires vast amounts of resources and accounts for about 50% of all extracted material. The construction sector is responsible for over 35% of the EU’s total waste generation. GHG emissions from material extraction, manufacturing of construction products, as well as construction and renovation of buildings are estimated at 5–12% of total national GHG emissions. Greater material efficiency could save 80% of those emissions” (EC, 2022). To increase material efficiency and reduce climate impact, the European Commission has launched a comprehensive new strategy for a sustainable built environment, which promotes circularity principles throughout the lifecycle of buildings. One of the possible options is building with bio-composite materials.
Typical construction materials (e.g., plastic, steel) have a large ecological footprint. Contrary, bio-composites are the next generation of sustainable building materials, made up of a combination of eco-friendly ingredients – usually plant fibers mixed with natural resins and binders. Bio-composites help eliminate non-renewable waste, reduce raw material usage, and cut fossil-fuel consumption.
It can be stated that the construction industry is experiencing a technological and green revolution across the entire building life cycle. However, analysis of available education across European countries reveals that higher education in green construction with bio-composites is still not sufficiently developed, teachers and students lack sustainability competences, as well as green construction knowledge and skills. Bio-composites are often neglected in civil engineering and other construction-related study programmes. The gaps in education and skills mismatches, observed in 7 universities, encouraged the new BIO-FIBRE project’s idea – to develop and deliver the innovative student-centered trans-disciplinary course in green construction using bio-composite materials. For development of such education, efforts and resources of single institution are not sufficient, joint collaboration actions, sharing of know-how among different higher education institutions are necessary, moreover, to maximise the impact, international trainings of students are required. Therefore, it is expected that funding will enable participating organisations to gain experience in international cooperation, join and share trans-disciplinary knowledge, strengthen their capacities and will help to produce high-quality innovative deliverables, including innovative courses on green construction with bio-composites.
O1. To develop methodological framework, based on innovative student-centered learning approaches and improve pedagogical competences of teachers;
O2. To develop a new course on green construction with bio-composites;
O3. To educate students in sustainable construction practices with bio-composites;
O4. To ensure open awareness of the project’s results at local, national, EU and transnational level and promote sustainable construction in higher education.
Added European value
Green construction with bio-composites is rather new and just started to be developed in European countries. HEIs lack of knowledge on how to produce and use bio-composite materials in construction and implement circular economy principles,therefore education in this field is not sufficiently developed. Collaboration between professionals from different countries and universities is necessary to collect know-how and to create the new trans-disciplinary course. Universities involved in the partnership are specializing in different bio-fibres that can be used in construction in Northern, Middle and South European countries. Sharing of knowledge of teachers from different countries will create an added value and provide education on different types of construction solutions with bio-composites. Obtained knowledge will be spread across 7 universities from 7 countries and, due to dissemination activities, to other European universities. Joint research activities by participating HEIs will lead to development of new knowledge in construction with bio-composites and will further encourage research at European and international level.
Added value will be created in implementation of the new course. Students from 7 European countries will have an opportunity to study topics of the course at their HEIs, they will have access to study materials, developed by the group of international teachers. International blended mobility course will be organized. During this course students will be able to make experiments on bio-composite materials at advanced laboratories of AUTH (Greece) and TU/e (Netherlands), attend lectures delivered by international group of teachers and company representatives. Working in international groups students
will develop their intercultural communication, social and English language skills.