Aiming for low environmental impact

Scheme of  aiming for low environmental impact

Aiming for low environmental impact

Circularity is not a goal to aim for in itself. Instead, it is a way to make the construction sector more sustainable by focusing on buildings with a higher energy efficiency, while also considering the impact of material use on the environment and the depletion of raw materials. To avoid high circularity having an equally large impact on the environment, we also need to consider the environmental impact of materials and buildings in circular construction.

In a construction project you can intuitively aim for a low environmental impact by making environmentally conscious material choices based on some simple principles.

Or you can go a step further and carry out more in-depth studies using a life cycle analysis (LCA) to make well-considered material choices that reduce the environmental impact of the building.

KULeuven Living Lab consists of 85% bio-based materials

biobased materialen cbci KULeuven Living Lab
milieubewuste materiaalkeuzes

Eco-conscious material choices

Choosing a certain material has an impact on the environment. That impact is determined not only by the way the material is produced, but also by the raw materials for production, products needed for maintenance, treatment of the material at end of life (landfill vs recycling), etc. To map that all out in detail for each material and the entire building, extensive LCA calculations are needed. These are not always possible or desirable. You can also choose a more intuitive approach – based on a few rules of thumb – to make eco-conscious choices:

berekening milieu-impact

Calculations (LCA)

To quantify the environmental impact of a material or building over its entire life cycle, you can do a life cycle analysis (LCA). Using this methodology you can objectively compare and optimise solutions, and communicate about them openly. The LCA methodology is included in standards so that calculations are carried out in a uniform way. To determine the environmental impact, different environmental problems are taken into account: global warming, acidification, water scarcity, land intake, particulate matter, ionising radiation, etc.