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Assessing Sustainability of Building Materials in Developing Countries: The Sustainable Building Materials Index (SBMI)

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This article investigates the nature of sustainability assessment of building materials in order to critically review the Sustainable Building Material Index methodology. A literature study is carried out to define sustainability, develop assessment indicators for building materials and describe, and critically review, the Sustainable Building Material Index (SBMI).

The SBMI methodology appears to have potential as a way of providing an indication of the sustainability impacts of building materials and products for developing countries. The SBMI methodology is innovative as it provides a way of capturing simple socio-economic sustainability aspects related to building products, which has not been included in many other building product assessment methodologies.

Published in: Environment
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Assessing Sustainability of Building Materials in Developing Countries: The Sustainable Building Materials Index (SBMI)

  1. 1. Assessing Sustainability of Building Materials in Developing Countries: The Sustainable Building Materials Index (SBMI) Gibberd, Jeremy Organized by: Promoted by: With the participation of:
  2. 2. Structure • What current sustainability assessment methodologies can be applied to building materials and products? • Do these provide an objective way of measuring, and representing, sustainability impacts related to the building products in developing countries? • Do assessment systems enable building products to be compared? • If appropriate assessment methodologies do not exist, can an alternative methodology be proposed? If so, what does this look like?
  3. 3. Methodologies Wide range of assessments systems, but: • Not aligned to developing country contexts • Require data that is not available • High cost, high competency • Do not support comparisons Most relevant: A. Global Reporting Initiative B. ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility C. Guidelines for Social Lifecycle Assessment of Products
  4. 4. Global Reporting Initiative • Developed by the Global Reporting Initiative • ‘a trusted and credible framework for sustainability reporting’. • [ report content]... made by considering..organization’s purpose and experience, ..expectations and interests of the organization’s stakeholders. Criteria include: • Transport • Employment • Labour / management relations • Occupational health and safety • Training and education • Diversity and equal opportunities
  5. 5. ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility • Developed by International Standards Organisation (ISO) • ...provide guidance on the underlying principles of social responsibility • ...integrate socially responsible behaviour into the organization • Guidance - not to be used for certification Criteria include: • Human rights • Labour practices • The environment • Fair operating practices • Consumer issues • Community involvement and development
  6. 6. Guidelines for Social Lifecycle Assessment of Products • Developed by United Nations Environmental Programme • Increase decision-makers’ awareness of more sustainable life cycle stages. • Provide holistic assessments of the implications of a product’s life cycle for the environment and the society. • Offer guidance to reduce environmental degradation increase the environmental, economic and social benefits Criteria include • Human rights • Working conditions • Health and safety • Cultural heritage • Governance
  7. 7. Findings • GRI, ISO and GSLAP methodologies are relevant and have useful concepts that can be applied to the CBA project. • None of these methodologies can be readily be applied to compare social and economic impacts of building products in South Africa • The GSLAP methodology comes closest to this requirements. It will however require standardisation to support comparability.
  8. 8. Sustainable Building Material Index • Methodology for measuring, and representing, key environmental, social and economic sustainability impacts of building products. • Comparisons: Enables comparisons between materials. • Alignment: with lifecycle methodology, but simpler • Suitable for developing country context • Sustainability: Can be used by Architects, Developers, Manufacturers and Government to achieve sustainability objectives
  9. 9. SBMI approach Product impacts Functional units
  10. 10. SBMI data and analysis Resource depletion List all materials used to produce construction products during analysis period Type of material Source Amount Units Conversion factor Equivalents Clay Onsite 160 000 kg 1 160 000 Coal Town (5km) 2 400 kg 1 2 400 Ash Burgersdorp (56km) 280 000 kg 0 Any others Total 162 400 162 400 0.54 60 2 Resource consumption per year (kg/year) Resource consumption per unit of production Resource consumption per functional unit SBMI rating SBMI Lower Upper Units 0 100 0 - 9 Resource consumption per functional unit 1 80 99 Resource consumption per functional unit 2 60 79 Resource consumption per functional unit 3 40 59 Resource consumption per functional unit 4 20 39 Resource consumption per functional unit 5 0 19 Resource consumption per functional unit Data Normalisation SBMI
  11. 11. SBMI criteria and report Ecological • Resource consumption • Carbon emissions • Water consumption • Land use • Waste Human Development • Employment • Enterprise support • Mentoring • Training • Health and safety • Absenteeism
  12. 12. SBMI application: Informal brickmaking water supply brick forming bricks for sale drying bricks homestead ash clay waste bricks
  13. 13. Site information Owner • Has worked on site for 20 years and moved once to access clay • Lives on site with family Area • 1 of about 32 site currently active (in the top 10 producers) • Numbers of active sites reduced from about 69 in 2012 • Some sites used sporadically, by house owners producing their own bricks Site • Site area approx 3,000m2 (no defined boundary) • Consists of forming area, drying, firing, storage, water tank, dwelling, stores Production • 300,000 bricks a year; 200,000 blue bricks, 100,000 red bricks (regarded as non-compliant) Employment • 3 permanent, 7 casual Inputs • Ash from Burgersdorp (58km), coal from Alliwal North (5km), clay on site
  14. 14. Recommendations 1. Production processes and quality control: Practical training, technical manual and quality control. Increase number of compliant (200,000 compliant to 300,000 bricks/year) 2. Rainwater harvesting: Direct runoff to onsite tanks / offsite dams to reduce carbon emissions and cost associated with pumping (50% reduction in pumping requirement) 3. Absenteeism: Life skill training and incentives to reduce absenteeism and increase production. (17 days a month to 22 days a month employment) 4. Marketing: Marketing and business development enterprise on site. Paid on retainer or as a % fee of sales. (1day a month) 5. Training and quality assurance enterprise: Training, quality control enterprise. Paid on retainer, or as a % fee of sales. (1day a month per employee & per enterprise) 6. Mentoring: Introduce Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Access SETA funding for training, RPL and formal mentoring programme.(1day per employee a month and per enterprise) 7. Local procurement: Lobby local and provincial government to include local products in their specifications and procurement policy. 8. Awareness: Develop publicity about the products and market to local developers, architects and home builders.
  15. 15. Existing Proposed SUSTAINABLE BUILDING MATERIAL INDEX (SBMI) V2 Site address Thabisile site, Dukathole, Alliwall North Analysis period 31 July 2014 - 1 August 2014 Analysis period (days) 365 Health and safety Training Resource consumption Carbon emissions Water consumption Land use Waste Ecological Human development Overall 0 0 0 0 2.17 1.67 Mentoring Health and safety 1.92 Ecological Pollution Human Development Employee absenteeism 2 2 2 2 5 0 4 3 Employment Enterprise employment Training Resource consumption 5 4 3 2 1 0 Carbon emissions Water consumption Land use Waste Pollution Employment Enterprise Mentoring Absenteeism SUSTAINABLE BUILDING MATERIAL INDEX (SBMI) V2 Site address Thabisile site, Dukathole, Alliwall North Analysis period 31 July 2014 - 1 August 2014 Analysis period (days) 365 Health and safety Training Resource consumption Carbon emissions Water consumption Land use Waste Ecological Human development Overall 5 5 2 1 3.00 3.83 Mentoring Health and safety 3.42 Ecological Pollution Human Development Employee absenteeism 3 3 3 4 5 0 4 3 Employment Enterprise employment Training Resource consumption 5 4 3 2 1 0 Carbon emissions Water consumption Land use Waste Pollution Employment Enterprise Mentoring Absenteeism
  16. 16. Conclusions & recommendations Criteria • Insufficient data to use ‘pollution’ Process • Works well with informal producers • Provides clear framework for improvement • Proposed interventions indicate requirements from other role players – promotes local linked systems Summary • Interventions to support quality and ensure reliable access to markets are important

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