PermaRock External Wall Insulation Systems Become UK First to Achieve Ecopoints rating

As the leading innovator in external wall insulation systems, PermaRock is pleased to announce that it has become the first External Wall Insulation (EWI) system designer to achieve an Ecopoints rating.

In recent years there has been an increasing interest on the part of developers and building designers to understand more about the sustainability of building materials and the environmental impacts of products and materials utilised in the built environment. Using methodology developed by the BRE (Building Research Establishment) and BERR (The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform), PermaRock has carried out whole life cycle assessments (LCA) on two of its key insulated render systems. The LCA measures the environmental impacts of the systems during their economic life, from the extraction of the raw materials and components to the disposal of the product at the end of a 60 year life cycle (i.e. cradle to grave).

The environmental impact is determined by 12 categories, including Climate Change, Acid Depletion, Ozone Depletion, Pollution to Air, Pollution to Water, Mineral Extraction and Waste Disposal. The data obtained from the LCA was then analysed and weighted, using the BRE methodologies, and an Ecopoints rating for each system was established.

Ecopoints

To improve the usefulness of the environmental data and make it easier to understand, the BRE developed the Ecopoints rating – a method of ranking and scoring different environmental impacts. The lower the Ecopoints score, the lower the environmental impact. As a benchmark, it has been determined that 100 Ecopoints represents the impact of one UK citizen on the environment for one year.

The results achieved by PermaRock are very impressive. Ecopoints scores of 0.10 per m2 and 0.15 per m2 on PermaRock’s Mineral Fibre External Wall Insulation System and Phenolic External Wall Insulation Systems respectively were achieved. Such extremely low Ecopoints scores reflect the hard work that PermaRock has put in to environmentally engineering its products, including reducing the energy costs associated with sourcing and transporting raw materials, manufacturing the products themselves, and delivering the products to construction sites throughout the UK. Significantly, PermaRock’s drive towards the incorporation of recycled content into its products has also had a beneficial impact on the Ecopoints score.

To put the results into context, assessments have also been made on other construction products: For example a traditional brick cavity wall construction achieves a score of 0.48 per m².

How can Environmental Profiling be used?

Environmental Profiling information is used in environmental impact estimation tools such as Envest 2 and allows for both environmental and financial tradeoffs to be made in the design process, allowing the client to optimise the concept of best value according to their own priorities. Results are also used in the Green Guide to Specification and to complete BREEAM assessments and Code for Sustainable Homes calculations.

At its simplest level, the profiling method can assess the impact of a single building product. However, to make valid comparisons, designers and specifiers need information about a building element, such as a wall. A building element is likely to be made up of several products. For example, the external envelope of a building could be constructed using a ‘single leaf’ approach with blockwork and external wall insulation, or using traditional cavity wall construction. The Environmental Profile takes this into account by adding together the contribution of the component parts, allowing comparison between one construction element and another.

The process enables manufacturers to demonstrate the credibility of their products and also help designers and specifiers identify materials that will best fulfil a sustainable brief. The use of low impacting products, such as PermaRock’s external wall insulation systems, can allow the designer more flexibility in terms of overall product/material specification of a building, allowing to off-set high impacting products with lower rated materials in other areas.

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