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Is Green Really Green


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Material Selection In The Context Of Sustainable Buildings

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Is Green Really Green

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