Our world is mostly built out of unsustainable materials. Bricks, concrete, steel, glass, and wood. All of these substances are practical and relatively cheap to produce which is why they are so popular (although the cost is rising), but there is growing concern over the long-term impact their production is having on the planet. It is estimated that the production of these building materials accounts for five per cent of all manmade carbon emissions — and nearly two-thirds of all the materials end up on a landfill site and are not recycled.
So perhaps it is time to look beyond the traditional materials that currently sustain the housing market. Here are five emerging sustainable materials that could be the bricks-and-mortar of tomorrow’s world: ‘Programmable cement’ Cement is perhaps the most ubiquitous building material of the lot, but there are problems with cement.
Bristol’s commitment to achieving its carbon neutral pledge by 2030 is being realised with the aid of a sustainable housing development, featuring innovative low-carbon heating. Bristol City Council’s 133 homes at Ashton Rise are being built using the high efficiency Sig iHouse solution, and heated by individual Kensa ground source heat pumps connected to a shared ground loop array of boreholes. The installation would see each home making lifetime carbon savings of 30 tonnes compared to individual gas boilers, whilst also removing all local NOx emissions, ensuring local air quality is not impacted by the choice of heating system.
With completion expected in Spring 2021, works have commenced on site by developer Wilmott Dixon, with the aid of UK ground source heat pump specialists, Kensa Contracting, undertaking the heat pump system installation.
The development is the first of its kind for Bristol City Council which features 40% of homes for social rent, and will see the council building houses for sale on the private market for the first time.
Our recycling process has been developed entirely in-house using our own engineering expertise and by adopting best practices from other industries, such as food manufacturing and rail engineering.
Eurocell has developed Dual Material Extrusion Technology (DMET) to enable the accurate processing of post-consumer (end-of-life) recycled material. DMET is used in all the manufacture of our main window profile systems, equating to approximately 27,000 tonnes of new products annually. With DMET, all of the post-consumer recycled material is concentrated in the core of the profiles, so the external faces maintain the finish quality and UV stability performance demanded by the relevant quality standards and customer expectations.
‘Share The Build’ is designed to increase the speed of delivery as well as requiring less on- site skill.
VRC Homes use galvanised steel flat pack modules with insulated wall panels. The modules cement fibre floor are over-laid with an insulated floating floor. The trusses are fitted, then sheeted with a weatherproof membrane and the exterior openings covered in plastic film.
VRC Homes provide and install the skeletal structure on pre-prepared foundations, so allowing the client to continue the build from first fix stage within a few days of arrival.
When Britain began its post war building boom, coal was king and energy was relatively cheap, so little thought was given to heat loss and few buildings were constructed with any meaningful level of insulation.
Seventy years on and the world is very different. With sky-high heating costs and a greater focus on the need to reduce energy consumption, builders, landlords and homeowners all take the insulation of their properties much more seriously.
But before we look at insulation it’s important to understand what’s involved. Insulation in a building is introduced to provide resistance to heat flow. The more heat flow resistance the insulation provides, the lower the likely heating [and cooling] costs. Good levels of insulation not only reduce heating and cooling costs, but also improve comfort.
Wienerberger, the UK’s leading provider of building material solutions, has announced a partnership with global leader in offshore wind power DONG Energy, which will now supply all of Wienerberger’s UK sites with renewable electricity. The partnership demonstrates Wienerberger’s commitment to responsible sourcing and reducing the carbon footprint of its business activities.
DONG Energy supplies renewable electricity from eight offshore wind farms in the UK, backed by Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs). Last year the company announced it would supply renewable electricity at no additional premium, so that UK businesses can achieve their sustainability ambitions without commercial disadvantage.
For Roofline and rainwater goods specialists, Swish Building Products, environmental responsibility goes hand in hand with efficient manufacture, supply and distribution. Housing Association Magazine takes a look.
The basic design principles of UK housing stock have changed very little over the last hundred years or so. Our favourite style is a rectangular masonry box topped by a pitched, tiled roof with a network of troughing and pipework to channel away the large quantities of rainwater that characterise the country’s climate.