Building the solution

How eco-friendly buildings can be part of a sustainable world.

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Untapped potential

Worldwide, buildings consume too many resources and produce too much waste. They use 25 percent of the world’s water and 40 percent of its resources, while creating one-third of all waste and 40 percent of global carbon emissions. Seen through the prism of these statistics, they’re environmentally unsustainable.

But buildings also have huge untapped potential to become a central part of the solution to our urgent sustainability challenges. Eco-friendly designs can combat climate change while improving our health, wellbeing and productivity.

To achieve this, it’s important to take a comprehensive approach to planning, design and construction that looks at every facet of sustainability. Focusing on just one approach can have a negative effect on the building’s overall performance, which is why standards developed by ISO (International Standardisation Organisation) and CEN (European Committee for Standardization) now make it possible to measure sustainability over a building’s entire lifecycle. These standards go beyond environmental performance to include how buildings contribute to health, safety and wellbeing.

We need to continue working hard to produce even better products and leaving a smaller footprint in the process – that includes thinking sustainability into our products, operations, and R&D as well.

Jens Birgersson

ROCKWOOL Group
CEO

Creating a eco-friendly design

The key step to eco-friendly design is to reduce the amount of energy a building needs. Typically, 80 percent of its energy use results from heating, cooling, hot water and lighting, while the remaining 20 percent is generated by construction materials, transport and demolition. So, while low-energy design is essential, it’s also important to design more comprehensively and consider how the building and its materials can be recycled and reused at the end of their life. The design and materials also have a bearing on other important aspects of sustainability such as thermal comfort, acoustic performance and fire safety.

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of energy from heating and cooling

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of energy from materials, transport and demolition

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of global resources and emissions are from buildings

Rating schemes

For an accurate assessment of how eco-friendly a building design is, Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) offers a useful and widely accepted methodology. LCAs look at a building’s entire footprint, including the materials it’s made from. Information about materials is usually communicated via Environmental Product Declarations (EPD).

An EPD can’t tell you whether or not a material is “eco-friendly”, because that depends on how it’s integrated into the design. But it makes for faster and more accurate LCAs of buildings, and helps builders to meet national standards and gain credits in sustainable rating schemes. ROCKWOOL products contribute to credits under sustainable building rating schemes such as LEED®, BREEAM, DGNB (German Sustainable Buildings Council) and HQE (Haute Qualite Environnementale).

When we look at the whole life cycle of buildings, it’s possible to create buildings that make a positive contribution to a more sustainable world. 

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