2013-07-15 09:51

ECO Platform Launching Event

With an event at Sofitel in Brussels, the ECO Platform is celebrating the official establishment and providing information to all interested stakeholders.

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2013-06-20 15:51

Komplexes einfach machen!

Ein Buch, das die Relevanz von Nachhaltigkeit für das Handwerk praktisch erklärt.

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2013-06-04 12:35

ECO Platform founded

On the way to a European Core EPD Christian Donath appointed as Managing Director

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Turkish Market goes Green

2012-10-19 20:00 von Christian Donath


At a conference in Istanbul, Christian Donath spoke to Turkish Architects and Industry representatives about the chances of sustainability on October 19 2012.


Two interviews were published, one by the Turkish Bloomsberg Business Week Journal another by "Radikal", one of the biggest newspapers in Turkey.


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1- Could you describe the sustainable building concept briefly?


I wouldn’t call it concept – to design, construct and operate buildings sustainable, you need a lot of individuality, because many varying parameters have to be considered. In the end it will always be a compromise, but hopefully the most sustainable one that could have been found.
What needs to be considered? You need to consider the full life-cycle of the building and it’s components to assess the sustainability of a building – from the production of the materials, over the transports and construction of the building, the operation and maintenance of the building to the end-of-life scenarios. And of course you should consider ecological, economical, social, functional and technical aspects as well as the location of the building. The difficulty lies in the interdependencies. If you improve the safety of the building, you might negatively influence the economical and ecological performance at the same time. For the architects and planners it is a complex task to optimize a building with regards to sustainability, but the result will be very user friendly. The complexity remains on the level of design.


2- We know that you studied civil engineering, can you explain why you chose the ‘sustainable building’ sector?


To be able to look straight into the eyes of my children at the end of my life and to do something worthwhile. I realized that we are facing some major global changes and wanted to contribute to improvements in my field – the construction sector. So I started to gather information about global changes, like population growth, the depletion of resources, the global environmental problems and the financial crisis. Then I tried to find ways how to react and supported the development of a certification system for sustainable buildings as CEO of the DGNB. During the last years I realized that I can help the sector of building products with my knowledge. Producers are in most cases not aware of the impact of their products in the context of Green Building. I help them to analyze and improve their production, products and their communication.


3- You had the opportunity to work in various parts of the world, can you compare the amount and quality of sustainable buildings between western Europe and other parts of the world?


I would reduce Western Europe to three countries for the answer: If you look at the existing buildings in Switzerland, Germany or Austria, you will find the highest building standard of the world. That doesn’t mean automatically that the buildings are most sustainable, but there is a certain advance compared to other countries. The reason for this is probably a combination of a certain engineering fable and the reaction to the oil crisis in the early seventies. The energy efficiency was improved constantly since, due to strict regulations and the related norms.

To create sustainable buildings other regions in the world can learn something from the mentioned regions, but good examples cannot be copied. Every region needs to develop an own understanding of sustainability and develop suitable solutions. Differences are to be considered, such as climatic or cultural aspects.


4- How do you describe ECO as an organization?


If you want to improve and assess the sustainability of buildings, you need credible information from products. To be able to perform a Life-cycle-analysis (LCA) of a building, you need data sets from all relevant materials that are used in the building. At the moment experts are spending (wasting) a lot of time, trying to collect the relevant information. Often the data is not comparable and not verified which degrades the result.

The EU Commission had mandated the CEN to develop a norm for environmental characteristics of construction products – the EN 15804. In this norm the Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) are described. However, in most regions EPDs are already voluntarily created and regional differences and national specific requirements lead to different interpretations of the norm. As a result, the EPD format is used differently in various regions and not recognized all over Europe. Hence, the effort for producers is unacceptably high, since different EPDs would have to be issued in all relevant markets.

The ECO Platform was founded to harmonize the EPDs for whole Europe. An EU core-EPD according to the new EN 15804 will be the basis for a mutual recognition of the EPDs by all participants. All relevant EPD program operators are presently working together to develop the common Quality Management and the harmonized format. The ECO Platform is mainly an umbrella organization for the EPD Program Operators, but is open to all stakeholders, such as European (Trade) Associations, Green Building Councils or LCA Practinioneers.


5- Following China, Turkey is ranked second in the top 225 companies list with 35 firms in the construction sector. How do you evaluate the initiative of Turks in the construction area?


Turkey has a huge market and with its construction companies a high potential to improve the built environment. If Turkish companies realize the potential of Sustainable Construction, I see big chances for Turkey to play a decisive role in all international markets.


6- What kind of materials should be used and what precautions should be taken regarding the carbon emission and other construction materials in a sustainable building?


As described above, the assessment of sustainability is very complex and there is no way of simplifying it without becoming incorrect. Nobody can assess the sustainability of products on the product level, because you need to consider the use of the material. Maybe this becomes clearer with an example: If you produce an insulation material, you use energy, resources and you produce emissions. If you use the material to insulate a building that will be heated or even cooled for the next 50 years or more, you might save energy demand and related emissions, which are much higher than the ones invested for production. That depends on the performance of the materials, the construction, the use of the building etc. All needs to be considered. And above that you may want to consider human toxicity aspects for the indoor air quality or fire protection, acoustics and so on.

I hope the example could make clear why sustainability has to be assessed on a building level, not on a product level. But credible and comparable product specific data is needed by all products.


7- Would it be more expensive to build a sustainable green building than a normal armored concrete building?


That depends on what you compare it with and when you start to plan sustainable. There are examples of buildings, which cost less than expected, because they were designed sustainable. There is always an economic aspect to be considered too. I wouldn’t call a building sustainable, if it is not economically reasonable too. Otherwise it won’t be built.

However, in many cases the initial construction costs are 5-10% higher than they would be, if you decide for the cheapest solution. But note, that we are talking about the initial costs only. The investment in better quality will pay off during the operation and maintenance period of the building. If not, it isn’t a sustainable building.