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Environmental performance of biobased building materials

Gepubliceerd op
18 januari 2022

The Biobased-In-NMD project is drawing up category 1 product data sheets for a wide range of biobased building materials for the National Environmental Database (‘Nationale Milieudatabase’ in Dutch, NMD). The project also take biogenic carbon storage and end-of-life scenarios into account. This should help SMEs to improve the competitive position of their biobased building materials on the market.

Importance of biobased construction

Biobased building materials can potentially make a significant contribution to the Dutch climate targets through the use of sustainably produced, renewable (inexhaustible) materials and through the positive effect of the biogenic carbon stored in biobased building materials. However, only a very small proportion of the materials used by the Dutch construction industry are currently biobased: approximately 2% is wood, while other bio-based materials only account for 0.1%.

The construction sector’s unfamiliarity with these materials and their environmental performance is a major barrier to their implementation at a larger scale. The inclusion of more biobased building materials in the Dutch National Environmental Database, which can be used to calculate the environmental performance of buildings, could help to ensure that these materials are used more often.

A lifecycle analysis for biobased materials

For this project, the environmental performance of a number of biobased building materials (such as products made of wood, reed, expanded cork or wool) is being tested by means of a lifecycle analysis in order to ultimately draw up a category 1 product data sheet for the NMD. The potential of these materials to store and retain biogenic carbon will also be analysed. By ensuring these materials can be circulated for longer (e.g. through a longer service life, reuse and recycling), they can make a significant contribution to the climate targets. The consortium aims that the insights gained from this project will be incorporated as much as possible in the NMD’s LCA method.

Biobased materials in the NMD

The NMD is a database that architects and project developers can use to assess the environmental performance of a building. Users of validated calculation tools can only calculate the effects of biobased materials if their product data are included in the NMD. Meanwhile, more and more clients in the civil engineering sector are including environmental performance as an award criterion in their tenders. A category 1 product data sheet should therefore make the biobased products of building materials suppliers more competitive for the larger construction projects. Ultimately, the project aims to include at least 14 new materials in the NMD. A TKI grant has been made available to make it easier for participating companies to apply for a category 1 product data sheet (in addition to existing fiscal support such as MIA/VAMIL schemes).