Sustainable Material Selection: Resources to Assist Architects

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Architects are increasingly focused on creating environmentally sound projects by incorporating sustainability into design. This shift to sustainable design centers around the selection of sustainable building products and materials.
 
Embodied carbon – the greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction, manufacture and transport of building materials - will be responsible for 74% of all CO2 emissions of new buildings in the next 10 years. Unlike operational carbon, which can be reduced during a building’s lifetime, embodied carbon emissions are fixed in place as soon as a building is complete and can’t be decreased.
 
Architects can help address climate change and reduce embodied carbon in the built environment by prioritizing the selection of sustainable building materials.
 
To obtain greater detail about individual products that go into a building’s construction and to more easily select green building materials, architects can leverage credible resources and green building material certifications like these:
 
Mindful Materials database
A free platform designed to make it easier to make more informed building material choices, the Mindful Materials database has become the leading building industry resource for aggregated health and sustainability product data. The database contains more than 8,200 products and 170+ published manufacturers, allowing project teams to access product options with sustainability attributes in a single location.
 
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
With EPDs manufacturers provide comprehensive information about the life-cycle environmental impact of their products and services. EPDs, which follow an ISO standard to report information, can help architects gain a better understanding of a product’s environmental performance and impacts.
 
Architects researching EPDs for insulated metal panels will find that Kingspan Insulated Metal Panels’ current EPD is certified by SCS Global Services, an international leader in third-party certification and standards development in environmental, sustainability, food safety and quality performance claims.
 

GREENGUARD

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GREENGUARD certification means that a product has met industry standards for low emissions. Products are tested for levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making sure that certified products are not harmful to building occupants and do not adversely impact indoor environment quality (IEQ). Products are tested for thousands of these compounds that off-gas from things like carpets, paints, and sealants.
 
With stricter certification criteria, GREENGUARD GOLD certification requires products to have even lower total VOC emissions levels, providing assurance that products are acceptable for use in environments like schools and healthcare facilities.
 
Kingspan is the only metal panel manufacturer in North America to deliver GREENGUARD or GREENGUARD Gold Certified products. Kingspan has achieved GREENGUARD Gold Certification across all current PIR foam core product sets and all products utilizing Kingspan’s innovative QuadCore® foam technology.
 

Red List Free

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The Living Building Challenge (LBC) Red List represents “worst in class” materials, chemicals, and elements known to pose serious risks to human health and/or the greater ecosystem that are prevalent in the building products industry. The Red List identifies substances that the International Living Futures Institute (ILFI) believes should be phased out of production due to health and toxicity concerns. Substances are added to the Red List as new research warrants their inclusion.
 
Architects looking for Red List Free building materials will find that Kingspan QuadCore Technology is Red List Free, so it can contribute to credits in health and wellness certifications, such as WELL, the Living Building Challenge, LEED v4 and BREEAM. 
 
Studies show that the earliest design decisions can determine up to 90% of the eventual impact of a building. As such, architects have a great opportunity to help fight climate change by incorporating sustainability into project design. To deliver more sustainable projects, architects can leverage a host of credible resources and certifications to help make building material selections that reduce energy use, lower greenhouse gas emissions, protect natural resources and improve air quality.
 

Cradle to Cradle Certification

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Cradle to Cradle is “a recognized measure of safer, more sustainable products made for the circular economy.” The certification process, performed by a qualified independent organization, assesses products for environmental and social performance across five critical sustainability categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. Products receive an achievement level in each category — Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum — with the lowest achievement level representing the product’s overall mark.
 
Containing no Banned List chemicals above the relevant thresholds, Kingspan’s QuadCore® Technology has achieved a Material Health Silver certification. Quadcore is also certified not to contain chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, genetic damage, or reproductive harm (CMRs).

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