Buildings are humanity’s largest creations. They last for decades, if not centuries. And their impact does not go unnoticed: the building and construction sector is responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions. We use 230 billion square meters of building space and another 65 billion could be added this decade. The materials we choose to build with will have an everlasting effect on generations to come.
When we think of construction, concrete and steel come to mind. But that is starting to change. Rather than being a source of degeneration, buildings are becoming regenerative for the environment and human well-being.
Buildings are becoming bio-based.
To deal with the housing crisis in the Netherlands, we’ll need to build one million new homes by 2030. At the same time, many construction projects are at a standstill because of international CO2 and nitrogen reduction goals. Why don’t we swap concrete and steel for bio-based materials, so that we can tackle the problem at its core? Bio-based materials such as wood, hemp, flax and straw, are not only climate positive materials, they are accompanied with numerous other benefits.
The benefits of bio-based building
Climate positive building
Lightweight bio-based materials make transport and construction more efficient, which drastically decreases nitrogen and CO2 emissions. Bio-based building materials do not only promote biodiversity, they contribute to long-term carbon storage.
Health and happiness
Bio-based materials have better acoustic properties and offer excellent noise control. Bio-based buildings breathe—they assure a healthy and comfortable indoor climate through their moisture and heat-regulating properties.
New bio-based materials are more fire resistant, stronger and safer than ever. Prefabrication speeds up the construction process, lowering costs and significantly decreasing the waste, noise, and traffic typical of construction sites.
Full impact assessment
Which materials we use for building matter. They influence the process of construction, renovation, demolition and transportation. They influence the impact on ecosystems and our climate. They influence how people feel. They influence costs.
We’re creating a tool that aids decision-makers with the best scientific evidence and the latest Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data to easily compare scenarios of the impact of different building materials. This is what’s needed to accelerate the transition towards bio-based building.
Webinar: Beslissen over gezond en duurzaam biobased bouwen
In this Dutch webinar our comparison tool was introduced. This tool helps communicating the benefits of bio-based building materials and can help with the building materials decision making process.
VPRO Tegenlicht documentary ‘Houtbouwers’
Watch the inspiring VPRO Tegenlicht documentary ‘Houtbouwers’ and read more in-depth articles about how the construction sector in the Netherlands is slowly switching to wood on the VPRO Tegenlicht website.
We signed the Dutch manifesto: A level playing field for a more sustainable Netherlands. The calculation methods used to determine the environmental impact of building materials do not limit CO2 emissions during the production of building materials. Together with other major parties from the construction industry, we call on politicians and policymakers to ensure that, beyond the interests of the construction industry, calculation methods strongly promote the use of highly emission-friendly materials. CO2 storage should be included in the MPG calculation.
Join us and sign the manifesto!
Explore our Sprint diaries
We work in agile design sprints and share our developmental progress in our Sprint diaries to offer full transparency. We default to open source, as it’s an essential part of our design philosophy.
Sprint 0: EcosystemExploring the bio-based building ecosystem
Sprint 1: Conditions
Uncovering the conditions for change in the building industry
Sprint 2: Development
Developing the building material impact tool
Sprint 3: Delivery
Delivery of the building material impact tool