All about green buildings
It’s a fact that the construction sector pollutes. Construction works, whether they’re for residential, service or industrial purposes, generate a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, and that’s without taking into account the operation of the building after it’s built, such as maintenance, energy consumption in terms of heating, electricity or other utilities like water.
The sectoral approach taken by the report published on the state of the environment in France shows that residential and service buildings are the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. They come below transport but ahead of the manufacturing, energy and agriculture industries. Construction represents 20% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, so it seems important to put in place strategies to reduce its major environmental impact and to make our buildings more environmentally friendly. This is, basically, what green building is about.
Resilient internal finishes, better insulation, more efficient lighting, climate control, and water conservation are all ways to make buildings ‘greener’. The point of a green building is to optimise its efficiency and lead to less pollution than a building built by more conventional processes. The concept of a green building also factors in the idea of its maintenance and considers its end of life cycle by making the most environmentally-friendly and sustainable framework possible.
Environmental certification for buildings
There are many types of certification proving that a building respects the principles of green construction. In France, they use HQE (Environmental High Quality), in the UK the equivalent is the BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) and in the USA they have LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). These main certifications have many points in common and differ primarily on emphasis and how they score.
When eco-friendly is wallet-friendly too
Sustainability and conserving natural resources are increasingly looked at and sought after by buyers, as shown by the study published by Bentall Kennedy, a North American specialist property manager and adviser. Kennedy conducted a 10-year study to assess the real impact of green building on property value and quality of life for occupants. The results make interesting reading for project owners and in particular anyone involved in the service and property sectors. It found that certified buildings have better lease terms (+3.7% above average rent for LEED certified buildings) and offer tenants savings on their energy consumption. This is particularly impressive and attractive given increasing energy prices. As the Energy Regulation Commission (CRE) has calculated, the regulated gas sales tariff has increased by 63% since 1 January 2005.
A building is a person's living environment
As well as the savings on utilities, green buildings improve quality of life.. Under the HQE certification for buildings, materials, for example, used in the ‘green’ construction process, are more people-friendly and must meet certain Comfort and Health requirements alongside the eco-construction or eco-management criteria.
A healthy air quality and choosing materials with a limited VOC rate are essential elements of construction. Air quality can affect not only respiratory conditions, but also a person’s cardiovascular, nervous or even endocrine system. One quick observation is all that is needed to understand why: our bodies inhale nearly 15,000 litres of air every day. Air quality affects the amount of atmospheric compounds that are absorbed into the body.
How does the Acrovyn® range support green construction?
For over 70 years, Acrovyn® products have protected walls and flat surfaces against daily wear and tear. Shock-resistant, scratch-resistant, bacteriostatic and easy to clean, with its VOC rating of A+, Acrovyn materials have always contributed to extending an indoor space’s life cycle and improving both health and quality of life.
Our wall and door protection systems work together to provide buildings with decorative harmony while meeting healthy building requirements set out by green building certification for example, the HQE environmental certificate. They meet criteria C12 (‘limit pollution sources’) and also C13 (‘choose materials that limit fungal and bacteria growth’). Naturally bacteriostatic, Acrovyn® materials also offer a bactericidal version thanks to the addition of Sanitized AG® treatment for places where hygiene has to be even more stringent.
The Cradle to Cradle philosophy
Emerging at the end of the 1980s, the circular economy concept aims to promote the re-use of raw materials used during the product life cycle. A product or material at the end of its life should become a raw material again, so that it can be used in a new product or material, without any loss in quality.
A material is generally measured according to its complete life cycle, including aspects like installation. The Cradle to Cradle concept looks at the wider context of intrinsic energy, emission toxicity, replacement cycles and recycling cycles to make sure that a material is ‘green’ in every respect. A Cradle to Cradle certified product must therefore be recyclable, or not contain any new raw materials. Sustainable building materials and fittings are becoming ever more widely available, and pay dividends as they don’t need to be replaced or maintained as frequently.
Newly awarded Bronze Level Cradle to Cradle certification for Acrovyn PVC-Free Sheet evaluates the product’s sustainability across its entire lifecycle, giving customers confidence to specify it in green building schemes.
Protecting the environment is a journey, not a destination. We recognise our responsibility to current and future generations for the preservation of our global environment. We are proud of the contribution we make to sustainability and are continually working towards more environmentally-sound practices across our operations worldwide.