Many of today’s so called sustainable buildings are not environmentally friendly in reality.
This is the view of a new organisation being established by Renewable Building to promote the use of ‘low impact’ building materials in the UK. The members of Renewable Building have decided that it is time to widen their focus from strictly bio-based materials to all genuinely sustainable low impact materials, and to drive the policy and market changes necessary for genuinely green building practice.
According to Renewable Building the over-emphasis on reducing energy demand in use can actually result in buildings that are less environmentally friendly over all, as they are often less healthy, more energy intensive to construct and lead to toxic waste at the end of their useful lives. Sustainability can only be achieved if we take a holistic view of buildings that includes not only the energy and carbon in use but also consideration of the raw materials, health in use, end-of-life as well as the wider social and ethical issues.
In a market place awash with green claims, the key challenge for this new organisation is to have some absolute criteria to help define what it means by ‘low impact’. Here, Renewable Building has decided to adopt the Natureplus(TM) product certification system. The Nature plus eco-label is now firmly established and respected in many European countries (incl. Germany and France). Products currently certified by natureplus include wood fibre insulation, clay insulation blocks and hemp insulation matts.
A spokesperson for Natureplus said “After 10 years of development in Central Europe we are delighted to bring the Nature plus eco-label to the UK market. To ensure best practice, the standards set by Natureplus have been developed through collaboration by industry and environmental organisations (such as WWF). Our transparent and rigorous, third party product approval system can only be achieved by manufacturers that meet these highest standards of sustainability. Products made from finite fossil reserves or that contain toxic chemicals or that lead to end-of-life pollution do not meet this standard.”
Nature plus was represented for the first time in the UK at the Big Green Home Show at the National Self-Build and Renovation Centre last weekend.
Anyone interested in finding out more about Natureplus or the new low impact building organisation should contact Gary Newman, Chair of Renewable Building at firstname.lastname@example.org