Catch 22: Material needs versus material impact
Rethinking the supply chain and improving the efficiency of materials framed by three questions: what is the right material, what is the best material, and how can we minimize material use.
November 01, 2018 | Workshop Introduction
We have no choice but to drastically rethink the supply chain and improve the efficiency of building materials. Climate change is accelerating partly due to the need to satisfy the enormous demand for new construction with available materials and technologies. Failure to meet the increasingly urgent need for new housing and infrastructure will exacerbate social tensions that in turn stimulate often-unmanageable rates of migration. This is the “Catch 22” dilemma facing any development agenda today.
The construction of the built environment drives the never-ending demand for vast quantities of materials, with construction estimated to account for about half of all materials extracted from the earth. Considering the sheer scale and impact of construction operations, it is paramount to reduce resource consumption and its associated energy consumption as well as the production of greenhouse gases.
Most construction materials actually have low levels of CO2-associated emissions and embodied energy, however, the enormous volumes used makes those materials a significant contributor to overall anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Taking into consideration just the materials based on cement (i.e., concrete, mortar), these alone make up over 50% of all man-made materials and account for around 5-8% of total CO2 emissions. However, these huge volumes of materials present an opportunity as even incremental improvements in performance can have a huge positive impact. At the same time, the parallel demand for low cost is extremely challenging.
Insofar as the greatest consumption of construction materials now occurs in newly industrialized and developing countries, it is especially in these contexts where notable improvements in material efficiency, CO2 emissions, and energy consumption have to be made and must demonstrate the most impact, if real change in production and consumption patterns is to be achieved.
The fundamental challenges faced in rethinking the supply chain and improving the efficiency of materials can be framed by the following three questions:
- What is the right material - which construction materials are best sourced and produced in relation to where and how they are applied?
- What is the best material - what processes are the most cost effective, energy efficient and emission free when sourcing and producing construction materials?
- How can we minimize material use - how do we ensure the least material consumption in construction?
The workshop “Catch 22: material needs versus material impact” will discuss the range of responses to these questions from diverse speakers who approach these issues with regard to the geographical origin of materials with which they work, the type of materials used, and the methods applied to them.See more