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Is Green Really Green

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Material Selection In The Context Of Sustainable Buildings

Material Selection In The Context Of Sustainable Buildings

Published in: Technology, Business

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  • 1. Material Selection In The Context Of Sustainable Buildings Ingo Ratsdorf, BE Arch. Architect, Building Biologist, ANZIA
  • 2. What is it about?
    • Presentation structured into two parts:
    • 1) Introduction to Material Life Cycle
      • Life cycle stages
      • Implications on sustainability
    • 2) The selection process
      • Shortlisting
      • Decision making
  • 3. Part 1: Introduction
    • Materials for sustainable buildings mirror similar stages as those of buildings:
    • Design
    • Raw material acquisition
    • Production
    • Use
    • End-of-life
    • Each stage has environmental impacts
  • 4. Product design
    • Modern products are designed for useful service life
    • No consideration for end-of-life
    • Clever design would make product reusable, recyclable
    • Product should feed production of new items of equal or better quality
  • 5. Production
    • Production involves raw materials and energy
    • Creates pollution, by-products and waste
    • Cradle-to-Gate LCA stops here
    • Environmental certification stops here
    • Embodied energy rating usually stops here
  • 6. In-Use stage
    • Product incurs transport to site
    • Dealing with leftovers
    • Maintenance required to achieve durability
    • Maintenance products have own lifecycle
  • 7. End-Of-Life
    • Disassembly for reuse or recycling
    • Reusability rarely possible
    • Recycling cycles limited, paper up to 7 times, aluminium and PET virtually unlimited
    • Energy for recycling needs consideration
    • Downcycling is a one-way-street and renders materials useless
    • Disposal is a waste of material and money
  • 8. Part 2: Selection Process
    • Environmental certification and Cradle-to-Gate LCA can be misleading as it (usually) does not consider the impact of the In-Use and Disposal stage
    • Eco-Certified products will incur transportation, maintenance and might eventually end up in landfill too.
    • LCA tools give an insight to performance and might refute common perception
  • 9. LCA Example: Transport Environmental performance of cladding materials: No allowance for transport.
  • 10. LCA Example: Transport Environmental performance of cladding materials: Allowance for 8000km transport for cedar only.
  • 11. LCA Example: Flooring The following tables are taken from the LCA tool BEES 4.0. The results are for a functional unit of 1 ft 2 – 0.09 m 2 for a period of 50 years.
  • 12. LCA Example: Flooring
    • You cannot trust your perception
    • Impact is not determined by “natural” or “artificial” but by manufacture, use and disposal
    • Economics should take into account long term effects on human health and the environment
    • Transport can have significant impact
  • 13. Selection process
    • LCA
    • LCA good way
    • Not available for all products
    • Little data available in NZ
    • Not available for the common specifier
  • 14. 1. Blacklisting Materials
    • List materials that should be avoided
    • Contains (potentially) hazardous substances
    • Proven or strongly expected impact on environment or human health
    • Asbestos, Arsenic, Chromium, Benzene, Formaldehyde, ...
  • 15. 2. Greylisting Materials
    • Materials that are not preferred
    • Blacklist candidates with no viable substitution option or contribute to the mitigation of environmental impact
    • Indefinitely recyclable materials containing blacklist substances without exposing them
  • 16. 3. Whitelisting
    • Materials that are deemed to be safe
    • Non toxic
    • Indefinitely recyclable
    • Biodegradable
    • Low embodied energy
  • 17. Shortlisting
    • Divide materials into the three groups
    • Request detailed product information
    • Make an educated guess on embodied energy
    • Check biodegradability and recyclability
    • Support local products – avoid transport
    • Throughly check environmental certification
    • Check production and disposal options
  • 18. Conclusion
    • No straightforward selection method
    • Check your construction, not just the material selection
    • Suitability is connected with use and detailing
    • Material selection is integral part of the design and cannot be done at any later stage

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