Ceramics and sustainable building

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What are the tools for constructing a building with low environmental impact? Materials (natural, recycled and recyclable), systems, and above all the design not only of the building but also of its overall life cycle. And impact assessment starts from the production of construction materials, which requires standards and certifications.

What are the right approaches and tools for sustainable building?

It all starts with the design of materials, systems and buildings and the preliminary analysis of their entire life cycle, crucial in assessing the environmental and social impact of construction projects.

So it’s not just a matter of designing the building’s positioning, shape and volume correctly and installing the most efficient systems to minimise its use of (preferably renewable) resources over its lifetime: every architectural structure must be conceived with its dismantling at end-of-life in mind, and natural, recycled and/or recyclable materials must be used. Under the sustainable building approach, demolition is superseded as far as possible by renovation and reuse.

Sustainable design also means organising construction site operations in a way which reduces their overall use of resources. From the extraction of the raw materials of the construction materials used to the disposal of demolition spoil, LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) estimates impact in every phase of the building’s lifetime.

Materials and components of natural origin or with low environmental impact are not sufficient unless they have certifications that confirm their compliance with specific requirements, starting from their production. The company was one of the first companies in the industry to certify its products, processes and factories in accordance with the toughest international standards and to publish Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), produced in accordance with the ISO 14025 and EN 15804 norms, for the transparent documentation of consumption of resources and impacts on the surrounding environment throughout the lifecycle of a product, from the extraction and processing of the raw materials through to the reuse of demolition spoil.

The company has also signed up to the Living Building Challenge, an international sustainable building certification programme created in 2006 by the International Living Future Institute, which aims to steer the building materials industry towards healthier, more eco-friendly products through transparent ingredient disclosure (the Declare label).