23 Apr The circular economy in building. Environmentally measured buildings
What is a circular economy?
Environmental protection is at the heart of all kinds of contemporary debates: from the social to the political to the economic one. The construction sector plays an important role in this debate.
The classical model of a linear economy, based on the extraction of raw materials, mass production and the immediate disposal of waste, is reaching its limits. The environment has no longer the capacity to sustain it.
One figure above all to give a better picture of the topic: every year the construction sector produces 25-30% of all the waste generated in the European Union. It is easy to see how necessary it is to find a place for this waste and to envisage a virtuous model that turns this waste into new products. In other words, to adopt a circular economy.
The three principles of the circular economy: reduce, reuse and recycle
The circular economy is based on three principles: REDUCE, REUSE e RECYCLE
- Reduce product packaging, waste of raw materials and of unused products; Isotex does not use neither pallets nor shrink-wrap.
- Reuse what we throw away and reintroduce it into production cycles, thus extending the life cycle of goods; Isotex reuses production scraps and reintroduces them into the production cycle.
- Recycle non-usable scrap and waste in such a way to recover materials, to give life to new products avoiding waste of resources and reducing the overall amount of waste going to landfills. Isotex uses 100% recycled wood and BASF’s Neopor® BMB (Biomass Balance Method) insulation derived from biomass (renewable sources).
Circular economy in the construction sector
The concept of circular economy emerged in the 1970s and has now become a strong principle to get inspiration from. There are many definitions, but we will borrow the one by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
“An economy designed to be able to re-generate itself […] The circular economy is a system in which all activities, starting from the extraction and production, are organized in a way that allows someone’s waste to become a resource for someone else”.
It is, therefore, an economic model that has a great number of valuable advanatges, including:
- Reduced emissions, greater environmental and health protection
- Reduction of environmental impact caused by the extraction of raw materials
- Savings on operational and production costs
- More sustainable consumption
- Reduction of raw materials
- New job opportunities
These are benefits that demonstrate the concrete possibility of structural innovation from several points of view (environmental, social, economic).
How to activate all of this in the construction sector?
By putting in place a new business model, a system with a circular approach in which products are reused for as long as possible until they reach the end of their life cycle. In this way, waste is minimised and resources are reused efficiently.
There are already virtuous examples in the construction industry, more and more products made from organic materials, waste, wood, plastic are routinely used to create new products, even construction debris and rubble are used for new productions. Isotex’s construction philosophy also fits into this context.
Isotex’s approach to the circular economy
Circular economy, sustainable architecture and ecology are fundamental aspects for our company. Since 1985 we have been developing a construction system based on natural, quality raw materials with a low ecological impact compared to the alternatives on the market, resulting in a final product that does not harm human health or the environment.
Buildings constructed with Isotex are energy efficient and can achieve high classifications such as A4 and NZEB, thus contributing to a decrease in energy consumption and a consequent reduction in CO2 emissions, while also ensuring excellent living comfort.
1. Production process with low environmental impact
Isotex’s commitment to protecting the environment is also demonstrated by the production process: Thanks to the low temperatures of our drying cells (maximum 50°C), we are able to significantly limit emissions. Finally, any defective products and milling waste are ground up and returned to the production process, which means: no waste is released into the environment.
Furthermore, our photovoltaic system reduces our electricity needs by around 50%.
As proof of our commitment, we have obtained various certifications: we are accredited by ANAB/ICEA (National Association for Green Building), we have obtained the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) and have certified our entire product range.
2. 100% recycled wood
Our entire production cycle is based on the use of untreated and 100% recycled fir wood. To obtain this raw material we decided not to cut down plants and trees, but to rather use recycled, untreated wood from sawmill waste, thus reducing the use of virgin raw materials. Natural 100% recycled material which we give a second life to and which we feed into a new production cycle.
3. New Neopor® BMB insert from BASF (up to 100% recyclable material)
From March 2021 we have taken a further step forward: all our products are equipped with the brand new Neopor® BMB insulation inserts made from renewable biomass sources (organic waste and scrap material). Neopor® BMB is the Biomass Balance version of the traditional expandable polystyrene with graphite (EPS) Neopor®.
With the Biomass Balance method, 100% of the primary fossil sources required for the production of EPS are replaced with renewable resources or biomass such as production waste or organic waste and are attributed to the respective final products using an internationally recognized certification scheme REDCert2.
With the Biomass Balance Method, renewable resources such as bio-naphtha or biogas derived from organic waste or vegetable oils are used as raw material in the very first steps of the insulation production.
Isotex for an increasingly greener construction industry
A “green” look that reflects our desire to promote with greater impetus the circular economy in the construction industry. Because it is only through a circular economy that global challenges such as climate change and the loss of biodiversity can be tackled – and overcome – and, at the same time, generate new economic, commercial and social opportunities, make the construction industry grow and produce environmental benefits. It is a great opportunity for our country, for companies and for the future of the planet.