The construction sector is one of the top users of resources, generating a big environmental impact. The sector accounts for 36% of final energy use and 39% of energy and process-related CO2 emissions, 11% of which result from manufacturing building materials and products . With the need to find new sustainable construction solutions to minimize its environmental impact, many challenges but also opportunities emerge, such as the adoption of Nature-based solutions and new methodologies to evaluate the impact of construction.
The interest in having information about the environmental impact of building products has increased the adoption of Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), which are documents that provide information in a standardized format using a consistent methodology. However, they do not always allow for easy product comparison.
To support an informed decision when choosing construction materials, innovative tools to make the sector more sustainable and transparent are emerging. The following tools were presented in the webinar organized by the The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP) on Thursday 15th September “Sustainable Building Materials & Products – Databases and Tools”.
2050 materials is a tool that aims to democratize the information for sustainable building. It tackles sustainability with a multidimensional approach considering the aspects: carbon, circularity, cost, social, health, and waste. This tool normalizes data from the EPD and ISO certifications and translates it into material facts digitally. This allows comparing between products using several filters.
Firstplanit is a comprehensive database of materials that aims to ungreenwash companies and materials and to rapidly accelerate health, well-being and sustainability in the construction sector. The tool looks at products and identifies the areas they are performing well with several indicators, allowing their comparison.
The Green building calculator
Green Building Calculator Version 1 provided information regarding whole building energy consumption, carbon in use, cost of building and cost of heating a building. The second version includes carbon footprint calculator for homes and non-domestic buildings. Different building shapes, methods of construction, materials choices and resultant energy demand and consumption can be compared easily.
 IEA (2019), Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction 2019, IEA, Paris
Picture from: Max Van den Oetelaar