Construction Material

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Term Info
Construction Material
Category Sustainable Development Terms
Last Edit By FIDIC
E-Mail suggestions [at] fidicterms.org
Last Edit Date 2018-06-20

Construction Material means :

SDABC2015.png The ABC for Sustainable Cities - A glossary for policy makers. 1st edition (2015)

Construction material is material used in the construction industry to create buildings and structures, e.g. steel, timber, aggregates, plaster, concrete and plastic products as well as manufactured products. (1)

The pressures and impacts related to the various life cycle stages of construction materials can differ significantly. For metals, for instance, the mining and refinery stage is often very energy intensive, causing fossil-fuel-related emissions. In the use phase, impacts depend very much on the specific application of the material. Dissipative emissions of the material itself occur, for example, in the case of corrosion of surfaces exposed to weather, or in the case of inherently dissipative applications such as spraying paints. These emissions can be attributed to the material itself. Further emissions in the use phase are related to maintenance and upkeep but mostly to the energy consumption of products. Materials also influence product lifetimes and hence the need for replacement production. The attribution of environmental impacts to materials in the use phase is problematic, as materials are incorporated into products (i.e. buildings) and it is the products that provide functionality. However, the analysis of alternative designs that use different materials can provide an indication of the environmental implications of material choice. In houses, for instance, the use of extra insulating material provides even higher energy savings. In many cases, however, energy requirements in the use phase do not depend on the material. In such cases the connection with materials is lost. Thus, positive as well as negative impacts of materials should be assessed throughout their life cycle. In waste management, the main issue is the large difference in end-of-life options. Recycling is common for metals, while most bulk construction materials end up in landfill. (2)

(1) EU; 2011, Let’s speak sustainable construction Multilingual Glossary, http://www.eesc.europa.eu/resources/docs/eesc-2011-01-en-fr-de-es.pdf, (2) Based on UNEP (2010) Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production: Priority Products and Materials, A Report of the Working Group on the Environmental Impacts of Products and Materials to the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management. Hertwich, E., van der Voet, E., Suh, S., Tukker, A., Huijbregts M., Kazmierczyk, P., Lenzen, M., McNeely, J., Moriguchi, Y.