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The use of natural building materials is well established as beneficial for the planet and for people.

The Natural Materials thematic group is working to support an industry-wide transition to mass use of natural building materials with all of the benefits that they can bring to both buildings and their occupants. Our aim is to make natural materials the first choice for building elements in construction by providing concise and clear resources that are easily accessible to architects/specifiers, homeowners and contractors.

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We define 'natural materials' as:

  • Materials that are abundant or renewable, with minimal processing and therefore low-embodied energy

  • Materials that are healthy, non-toxic and part of a continuous life cycle: easily reused, recycled or returned to the earth.

  • Materials that are sourced responsibly, with minimal ecological damage and preferably part of a regenerative land stewardship.

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We want to support an industry-wide transition towards towards the mainstream use of natural building materials by helping others to understand the definition of natural materials, and setting out the benefits that using these materials in our buildings can create. 


The Natural Materials Event Series has been created to support these aims.


Launched in July 2021, a monthly panel of expert speakers explain a material theme, demonstrates their use through case-studies, and demystify how the construction industry can become ecologically-regenerative, low-carbon and wellbeing-focused.

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Intermittently the series features a myth-busting session, where we take some common misconceptions or perceived problems and dispel the myths! 


We will also be included a ‘bottom-up’ approach to creating buildings from foundation to roof using natural materials. 


All of these events are free to attend. 

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Our team visits universities across the UK to give an introductory talk about Natural Materials in the building industry. We bring a collection of material samples so students are able to see and touch the materials themselves. We have also attended events such as Futurebuild and the Retrofit Reimagined Festival promoting Natural Materials.

If you are an architecture student or member of staff and would like to arrange a talk, please fill in a request form:


We want to educate and empower others involved in the industry. In order to build and share knowledge we are also working to collate and create informative resources for architects, specifiers, builders, contractors, clients, and homeowners. 


This will include targeted ‘Primers’ - providing audience-specific information to support choosing natural materials. 


We aim to make the information clear, concise and easily accessible to enable mainstream architects and other specifiers to work with natural materials in construction and to equip individuals with the fundamentals of why this is important. 


If the appropriate information is readily available this can enable the confident use of natural construction materials as standard.

You can download some of our initial resources here:

Contact us directly:

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It is clear from the success of the events series that there is an appetite within the construction industry for knowledge and training about natural materials. 


However, another important part of driving an industry-wide shift towards using natural materials is to understand the perceived barriers to their specification and implementation in the built environment. 


We created this survey to help us understand what information will be most useful for different audiences.   


The outcomes of this survey will allow us to focus our efforts on the resources that can be most transformative, and so will shape our actions, campaigns and outputs going forward.

We developed the survey for professionals within the industry to help us research and understand the key issues people associate with specifying and working with natural materials.


The survey should take under 10 minutes to complete. None of the questions are mandatory and you are free to only answer those questions which you feel are most relevant to you. 


Thank you for your time and any insights you can share with us.


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ACAN is a network of individuals within architecture and related built environment professions taking action to address the twin crises of climate and ecological breakdown. 

Contact us directly:

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