Several elements come together in a sustainable building project, each one playing an important role to achieve specific green objectives. In addition to design, construction and operational strategies, the use of green building materials also contributes significantly to the project’s sustainability goals.

By using green building materials, the future owner and occupants will benefit from energy savings, reduced maintenance costs, improved health and productivity, lower cost of changing space configurations, and greater design flexibility.

According to Roodman and Lenssen (1995), building and construction activities around the world consume 3 billion tons of raw materials each year (40% of total global use). Using green building materials and products promotes conservation of dwindling non-renewable resources while also reducing the environmental impact associated with the extraction, transport, processing, fabrication, installation, reuse, recycling, and disposal of building materials.

Sourced or made from renewable resources, green building materials are environmentally responsible as their impact over the life of the product is minimal. Green building materials are selected on the basis of specific criteria such as resource efficiency, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, affordability and water conservation.

Resource efficiency, for instance, can be achieved by using recycled content, natural and renewable materials, products manufactured with resource-efficient processes, locally available materials and components, salvaged or refurbished products, reusable and recyclable materials and packaging, and longer lasting materials.

Energy efficiency can be maximised by using materials, components and systems that help reduce energy consumption in buildings and facilities. Indoor air quality (IAQ) is enhanced by using materials that have negligible carcinogenic or chemical emissions, are installed with minimal VOC-producing compounds, offer moisture resistance, and require simple, non-toxic cleaning methods and products.

Water conservation targets can be accomplished by using products and materials that help reduce water consumption and conserve water.

Product selection

Product selection can be set in motion after establishing project-specific environmental goals. There are three basic steps leading to an environmental assessment of a building product: Research, evaluation and selection.

Research involves collecting all technical information to be evaluated in order to identify all the available options. This includes manufacturers’ information such as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) test data, source material characteristics, product warranties, recycled content information, durability data, environmental statements, building codes, government regulations, and more.

Evaluation encompasses confirmation of technical information and filling in information gaps. The evaluator can also request product certifications from manufacturers. Assessment is simple when comparing similar types of building materials but it is far more complex when comparing different products with the same function. When this is the case, both descriptive and quantitative forms of data need to be processed. A life cycle assessment (LCA) is an evaluation of the relative ‘greenness’ of building materials and products, and it addresses the impact of a product through all of its life stages.

Selection involves using an evaluation matrix for scoring project-specific environmental criteria, with the total score of each product evaluation establishing the product with the highest environmental attributes. Individual criteria included in the rating system can be weighted to accommodate specific objectives.

Danpal light architecture solutions for building envelopes

Danpal’s daylight systems offer high thermal insulation properties and mechanical resistance, allowing architects to harness natural resources in an environmentally-responsible and cost-effective manner.

Danpal systems can adapt to variable climatic conditions for sensible management of available light. They are adapted to the HQE approach, which has defined building certification and targets both the interior of the building, i.e., the health and comfort of users, as well as integration into the environment, saving resources and reducing waste.

Danpal has partnered with the ADEME (Agency for Economic Development and Energy Control) and the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research) to validate the thermal performance of the Danpatherm system. All Danpal products are manufactured according to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, and require simplified maintenance through high pressure cleaning with fresh water, and minimal soap or detergent. Danpal panels are 100% recyclable, with 100% of their production off-cuts being re-granulated by extrusion.

Danpal’s daylight systems also require low on-site fabrication and handling, with the company delivering systems manufactured to size in 95% of the installations, thereby minimising waste through off-cuts on site. The Danpalon system is certified as a non-pollutant and is suitable for use even in sensitive fields such as the agri-food sector.

For all of these reasons and more, Danpal is an environment-friendly building material for sustainable projects.