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Sustainable design materialimpact
Expertise

Environmental impact of materials

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At material selection level, we want to make a responsible choice by calculating the financial and environmental costs. The environmental cost is defined by taking into account the shadow cost of the different environmental indicators, i.e. the financial impact for society to neutralise the material impacts. Numerous environmental indicators are taken into account, such as mineral use, water consumption, energy consumption of fossil fuels, climate change related to greenhouse gas emissions, quantity of radioactive waste, emissions of substances in soil/water/air that affect the stratospheric ozone layer, human health or ecosystems, emissions of substances that cause an excess of nutrients, SMOG or acid rain...

VK can evaluate the environmental impact of a building, building element or material by the means of a life cycle analysis or LCA (e.g. through the Totem tool or the SimaPro simulation programme). Such an LCA compares different elements in order to make a balanced choice at the design stage. It is also important during the construction and operation phases to track, evaluate and map the different materials present in the building in order to reduce the environmental impact over the entire life cycle of the building. This can be done by means of a material passport.

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