With the Green Building Council of South Africa's (GBCSA) introduction of certification and rating tools for South African office and retail buildings, a number of progressive developers and architects are designing more sustainable buildings – or going further and gunning for a Green Star rating. Materials used in the building process and in the finished project represent one of nine major categories of evaluation, hence the relevance of green building materials. Other significant categories, related directly or indirectly to the performance of materials, include Emissions and Energy.
At the recent third annual GBCSA Convention in Cape Town, the council announced significant progress in rolling out its Green Star rating tool for multi-unit residential buildings and another is in the pipeline – for existing buildings. These new tools will bring green performance materials used in the housing and commercial sectors into sharp focus.
The use of appropriate building materials is critically important to a building’s energy performance and therefore in the designer's building specifications.
Eco-Insulation, manufacturer of the cellulose-based thermal insulating material of the same name, has positioned its brand as a product that can contribute to favourable ratings for building projects – ‘designed’ and ‘as built’.
The product has a low embodied energy, a key element in classifying building materials as sustainable or green. It is manufactured from recycled cellulose and thus has a very low environmental impact and its inherent low embodied energy is supported by the low energy manufacturing process.
Once installed, the product’s energy-saving performance benefits the energy performance of the whole building, cooling indoor summer temperatures by 8 to 10ºC in some buildings, and ensuring warmer indoor temperatures in winter.
Made from recycled newsprint, Eco-Insulation is itself recyclable and is one of the few insulation materials that is fully biodegradable. In cases where ‘down-cycling’ is the only option, it can be put to use in various agricultural applications.
It is also a zero-emissions product which represents a major advantage over many glass, plastic and composite insulation materials.
Eco-Insulation founder, Cecil Homan, says that in the USA, cellulose insulation competes on an equal footing with traditional glass-based insulation products, providing excellent R-values as well as effective sound insulation and fire safety benefits.