Fungi, sheep’s wool, straw, and bacteria: Perhaps not components of most building materials now on the market, but they’ll likely define future innovation in the sector. The 10 finalists among the more than 100 products submitted for this year’s Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Challenge from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and the Make it Right Foundation employ recycled and bio-based materials in sustainable alternatives to common building products.

To win the challenge, a product must meet Cradle to Cradle certification standards for material health, material re-utilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. Winners will be announced at the Institute’s Innovation Celebration to be held on Nov. 15 in New York City. Learn more about this year’s finalists below.

Reinforced Wood Wool Cement Board, Dutch Design Initiative
The Dutch Design Initiative added load-bearing wood poles to wood-wool cement board—a common roofing material in European construction—to expand the product’s use to more areas of the building envelope, such as walls. The boards comprise Portland cement  as well as wood that is certified by either the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification or the Forest Stewardship Council and can be nailed, drilled, and sawn like wood.

Mushroom Insulation, Ecovative
An alternative to plastic-foam insulation, Mushroom Insulation comprises agricultural byproducts such as corn stalks and a fungal mycelium binder that is packed inside the wall where it solidifies and adheres to the wall panels. The insulation functions similar to a structural insulating panel and eliminates the need for studs.

Softbatts Sheep’s Wool Insulation, Bellwether Materials
Why just leave sheep’s wool to sweaters when it can also fill your walls? Softbatts Sheep’s Wool Insulation is designed for use in a range of environmental conditions. Wool’s natural properties allow it to help remove pollutants from the air and delay the spread of fire, the company says. The soft-to-touch product looks like fiberglass, but unlike that material it doesn’t necessitate that installers wear protective gear during installation. And because it won’t deteriorate, it can be removed from the wall at the end of the building’s life and be reused or recycled.

Straw Panels, Ecococon
Straw walls are reimagined in Lithuanian manufacturer Ecococon’s prefabricated load-bearing panels. Made from 99 percent rapidly renewable and locally sourced straw and wood, the panels achieve an R-value of 6.75. Available in widths from 40cm to 120cm and heights from 40cm to 300cm.

Universal Construction Panels, ECOR
Used paper, cardboard, and agricultural byproducts are either filling the waste-stream worldwide or being recycled inefficiently, says green-building-products manufacturer ECOR. The company’s attempt to mitigate the issue has resulted in its Universal Construction Panel system of lightweight panels made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled waste cellulose fibers, and designed for use in a variety of climates. The panels can accommodate solar systems, battery storage, electrical and plumbing systems, and myriad envelope designs.

GR Green Roofing and Siding, GR GreenBuilding Products
Waste limestone, plastic bags, and milk bottles are recycled and manufactured into roofing and siding in a process that gets 78 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Unlike traditional extrusion, compression, or injection-molding manufacturing processes that require up to 60 percent plastic content, GR Green products requires only 23 percent plastic content, the company says.

StormWall Panels, StormWall Industries
Manufactured with a carbon-neutral process, this wall and ceiling panel system is designed to help improve indoor air quality by sequestering more than three times the carbon dioxide emitted during the production, transportation, and installation, its maker says. The panels are painted with VOC-free, Greenguard-certified paint, and they can withstand wind speeds in excess of 250 miles per hour.

Domus Mineral Paints, ROMA
Made from natural materials, these washable, nontoxic potassium silicate paints and primers are designed for use on drywall, wood, plaster, and trim in commercial and residential applications. The hypoallergenic and permeable paint is free of asthmagens, prohibits mold-forming bacteria, and absorbs carbon dioxide. The company says it has cut the manufacturing and transportation carbon footprints by 30 percent to 50 percent, compared to that of similar products.

Biobrick, bioMASON
Biobrick combines bacteria and an aggregate mix to create natural cement that hardens into a brick in fewer than five days, allowing it to function as a cost-competitive, sustainable alternative to cement-based masonry products.

HaploBlocks, HaploBuilt
Prefabricated structures are often convenient, but they are not often environmentally sustainable. The HaploBlocks building system features factory-finished modular building components that can be assembled on site. The system comprises a single-layer barrier, seal, and weep joint situated between impermeable insulating cork panels that are connected to the wood-frame assembly.