Deerns develops Materials Multiplier

Since 2010, Deerns has published the Deerns Multiplier showing the amount of CO2 emissions that we are saving with our sustainable projects compared with the amount of CO2 emissions that our operations produce. This number indicates the size of our designs for society in general and for our clients in particular: through our service we emit 1,249 times less CO2 in a year than we produce ourselves.

Energy savings and, consequently, the reduction of CO2 emissions, is, of course, a very important aspect of environmental care within the built environment, but it is certainly not the only aspect. The use of materials also has a substantial impact. This has already been recognised in the BREEAM and LEED certification methods through rewarding the minimisation of material usage or the use of materials with a minimum environmental impact. To determine the minimum environmental impact the so-called shadow costs of a building are determined. Shadow costs are fictitious charges that should be incurred to compensate for the adverse effects of material usage or to eliminate them. These could include the depletion of resources, energy consumption in production processes, processing and/or transportation of the used materials, emissions into the air and the discharge of waste in the water and/or soil.

By using this method for both our projects and our own offices, we are able to determine a Materials Multiplier in the same way as our CO2 multiplier: the difference between the shadow costs of our projects and the reference value (the shadow costs of an average new build) multiplied by the annual shadow costs of our own offices. Our own shadow costs are not only formed by the cost of compensation for environmental impacts from the shell, but also from installation systems and materials for the interior design.

The most recent projects implemented at our locations in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain have produced a Materials Multiplier of 397. In other words, we have ‘saved’ almost 400 times on environmental impact with our projects in terms of material usage than we have produced with our own premises.

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Deerns Materials Multiplier'

With the development of the aforementioned Materials Multiplier, we are keen to stress the relevance of sensible material usage in construction projects and the role that we as a professional consulting firm can play in that regard. The train of thought is comparable to that of the Trias Energetica and is also known as the Trias Materialica: Minimise the use of materials as much as possible. Subsequently, use sustainable materials that are either durable or easily recyclable. Finally, use the remainder of the required materials as efficiently as possible, in other words, with minimal environmental impact, minimal energy consumption and minimal transportation.

In addition to sustainable materials, healthy materials should also be used. Healthy materials are materials that improve the living environment and therefore contribute positively to the health of the building users. Consideration should be given to the responsible use of necessary adhesives and sealants and the use of bio-based materials, but also active materials such as CO2 absorbing concrete and particulate matter magnets that improve air quality.

The use of as many sustainable materials as possible will guarantee a long lifespan of the building. In addition, regional materials are used as much as possible and reuse is taken into account. Steel, for example, can be 100% recycled after the use phase.

Smart materials are materials that possess a certain property whereby they have an independent effect on the living environment of the building users. For example, Phase Change Materials (PCM) that have the property to store heat in summer and to emit warmth in winter. This makes the indoor climate more comfortable, resulting in a minimum use of air-conditioning systems. Another example is the use of thermochromic materials. Depending on the temperature, these materials change colour. Applications in a building give users insights into the prevailing temperature (comfort). In addition, the lighter and darker colours can deter and store solar heat.

Our vision of material usage and the previously mentioned certification methods are in line with the vision of the circular economy. This is an economic system that is intended to maximise the reusability of products and raw materials and minimise the unnecessary destruction of value, unlike the current linear system in which raw materials are converted into products that are destroyed at the end of their lifecycle.

25 octobre 2016

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