Although sustainable building is on the rise, large quantities of the harmful substances in building materials still manage to slip through into new and refurbished buildings. In a new online theme from Troldtekt A/S, experts present their views on material health and indoor climate – and possible solutions to the challenges.
“On the one hand, everyone in the construction industry is talking about sustainable building, but on the other, few people know what their building materials contain. Developers and architects are not chemists, so there is a general need for greater transparency about the ingredients.
So says Martha Lewis, Architect and Head of Materials, Henning Larsen Architects, Denmark, and winner of the Denmark’s Person Prize at the 2019 Sustainable Elements awards.
In 2017 (latest figures from the Nordic SPIN database), the building materials used in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland altogether contained almost 112,000 tonnes of substances classified as harmful in the Nordic region and/or the EU. In Denmark alone, the figure was 19,800 tonnes in 2017, whereas it was 14,200 tonnes in 2012 and 22,500 tonnes in 2016. These fluctuations may largely be due to varying levels of activity in the construction industry. But the bottom line is that material health does not have the same focus as ventilation, acoustics or daylight, for example.
“In many instances, building materials containing undesirable substances cannot be recycled in new buildings, nor can they be crushed and used as resources in new materials. This is why this development is an obstacle to the circular economy,” Martha Lewis continues.
The interview with Martha Lewis is part of a new online theme from Troldtekt A/S. The theme focuses on material health and indoor climate in buildings and, in addition to Martha Lewis, includes contributions by leading experts from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen (DGNB e.V.) and Building Material Scout GmbH.
In the theme, Dr Christine Lemaitre, CEO, DGNB e.V., explains how the recognised DGNB certification focuses on the health and comfort of users in buildings.
“Once a building is completed, the indoor air must be measured within four weeks. And because this is an ‘all or nothing’ test, it puts pressure on everyone involved to take it seriously. Not just on paper, but also to make sure those decisions are followed through and have an effect on the completed building. So, when we introduced these measurements, it was a real gamechanger,” she says, among other things.
The theme also features inspiration from north European buildings, which excel at being verifiably healthy – with Troldtekt acoustic solutions incorporated into the architecture. Read about the newly opened C2C LAB in Berlin, where all the materials meet the criteria of the Cradle to Cradle design concept.
Troldtekt wants to be included in buildings that are healthy for their occupants. This is why the company is working strategically to support the third UN Sustainable Development Goal: ‘Good Health and Well-being’.
“We’ve already charted the substances contained in our products, so we know they’re healthy for humans. Our panels have a long service life and to us it is imperative that we only put healthy materials into circulation in the buildings,” says Peer Leth, CEO, Troldtekt A/S.
Troldtekt is made up of the natural materials wood and cement and, as part of the Cradle to Cradle certification, the acoustic panels are thoroughly analysed. The ingredients are defined all the way down to 100 ppm (parts per million).
“In practice, this means our systematic Cradle to Cradle efforts provide us with detailed knowledge of all the substances contained in our products and enable us to document that they do not contain any hazardous substances. Cradle to Cradle calls for a more thorough approach than other certification schemes, which just use ‘does not contain’ lists. We see this as a prerequisite for supplying building materials that are healthy for people and the environment.
In addition to Cradle to Cradle certification, Troldtekt has qualified for approvals and certifications under several schemes, including Danish Indoor Climate Labelling, Germany’s EcoLabel ‘The Blue Angel’ and Sweden’s SundaHus.
DK 8310 Tranbjerg J