Sustainable Materials and Fittings for High Performance Buildings


Understanding Green Building Material Options

“Activities falling under the title of shelter, specifically within the building sector, account for ~40% of overall energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of these emissions are due to material resources and use. This is the reason why, this particular session is really important. On this basis, sustainable construction should be the rule and not the exception, something that the government, housing and building associations, should really take on board.”

These are the words that kicked off the Sustainable Materials and Fittings for High Performance Buildings panel at the 2nd annual Ghana Green Building Summit. Representatives from EchoStone and Gush shared the stage to take a deep dive into:

  • Defining sustainable resources
  • Identifying sustainable materials
  • Practical ways people can use sustainable items or equipment

Exploring the Differences in Sustainable Materials

Today, it is critical to differentiate sustainable branding from sustainable products, and with the growing investment in green building materials this line is becoming less clear. The marketplace has a variety of materials to consider and, according to Imran Rahman of Gush Business Development, one of the best ways to distinguish the sustainability of a product is by evaluating its primary, secondary, and tertiary impact.

This process is a great way to evaluate products generally or to measure them against a specific sustainability goal you’re looking to achieve. Primary impact considers the sustainability of the manufacturing process. These options can limit the application of heat, excess mining of pollutive and raw materials, or avoid gaseous manufacturing. Secondary impact, encompasses the impact of the delivery, transportation, or importation. The reality of green building materials is that very few have access to them. When it comes down to shipping green building materials around the world, these sustainable options before less cost effective and create a massive carbon footprint. Tertiary impact is the point of application. To solve this, Rahman suggests looking for materials that can solve more than one solution as a great place to start being more sustainable. In humid climates, for example, looking for building material that is mold resistant will benefit the long-term durability of a structure and limit the consumption of other products.

Sustainable vs. Renewable

From well known building materials like wood and bamboo, to lesser-known kelp and algae, plant-based building material are a large segment of the green building materials market. With any nature-based solution, it’s important to consider how long these natural resources take to grow before reaching maturity. With wood for example, is the cost of harvesting material from an old growth forest worth the massive impact it will have on the local ecosystem? Probably not. Ideally, green building solutions capitalize on natural processes without taking anything away from our natural resources.

For this reason, evaluating the supply chain of plant-based building materials is critical, stated Emmanuel Stefanakis - Chief Sustainability and Business Development Officer at EchoStone. Examining farming methods, the source of materials, and the methods used to convert raw materials into usable products are all good places to start. For example, while bamboo exhibits excellent qualities like rapid growth, durability, and carbon capture, it can be unaffordable as a building material in many parts of the world and the adhesives used to bind the material for commercial use in things like flooring can be harmful to humans and the environment. To build a truly sustainable product, solutions must strike a balance between environmental, social, and economic benefits.

Sustainability is Affordable

As competition for green building materials grows, the cost to be sustainable continues to decrease. In fact, EDGE, an innovation of IFC - member of the World Bank Group, has certified more than 400 projects across 37 countries and has found cost of certification to be less than 2% of total development. Furthermore, among EchoStone projects - which cater to the affordable housing segment, they have found EDGE certification costs less than 1% of total development costs. The free tools offered by EDGE allows builders to view a snapshot of their project’s carbon footprint based on regional data, which gives owners a reliable benchmark for making their properties more marketable to financial partners, end-users, and communities seeking to adopt green building methods.

In addition to certification, Echostone has also minimized the cost of their green building solutions by offering solutions that leverage local labor and materials, collaborating with developers and contractors on resource-efficient community planning and building designs, and standardizing building programs to reduce waste and time spent on construction. Striking this balance between cost, value, and quality makes it easier and more affordable to achieve green building standards.

With their team of experts, EchoStone empowers developers with technology solutions that create high-quality, affordable, and sustainable communities. When developers in emerging markets need a faster and more affordable way to build sustainable communities, EchoStone provides technology solutions to create quality homes for people who need them most.

Watch the full discussion to learn how EchoStone puts these visionary thoughts into practice through the EchoStone housing system.

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October 7, 2021 Blog , , ,
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