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Sustainability

Sustainable thinking is ingrained in UNILIN’s DNA.

Within the UNILIN group, sustainability isn’t a buzzword but a deliberate strategy. “Sustainable thinking is an indispensable condition at every level in our company. To really make a difference in the long term, you need to work ecologically and create a circular economy. A society that exhausts its own natural resources is doomed to fail sooner or later”, says UNILIN CEO Bernard Thiers. I think the original Dutch word here was maatschappij, which can be “company” or “society” – but I think it has to be society that is intended here, since a company doesn’t “have” its own natural resources in the way this sentence suggests ... 

EPD and the life cycle
UNILIN, division insulation has EPDs available
UNILIN, division insulation is also heavily invested in limiting the environmental impact of its products. To ascertain that impact in an objective manner we performed a life cycle analysis on single-layer roof panels and on the PIR insulation boards. Our analysis has been verified by an independent body and confirmed in an ‘Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)’. An EPD or Environmental Product Declaration contains detailed, quantitative and certified information on the environmental and health aspects of a product. The EPD is based on the life cycle analysis of a product. It is important to note that comparing the environmental impact of building products is best done at a building level, and across its entire lifespan. If an insulation material is less effective it will have to be used in greater quantities, and the choice of material will also impact the fastening method, for instance. A material that doesn’t insulate as well will lead to a substantial increase in energy consumption throughout the life of the building.   On the basis of the EPDs, architects and consulting agencies can calculate the total environmental impact of the products they are using for the building. This is no mere detail, because more and more clients are imposing directives on the designers. Buildings that use insulation boards with EPDs also perform better in BREEAM, the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for buildings.
 
Environmental impact of insulation in general
Comparing the environmental impact of building products is best done at a building level, and across its entire lifespan. If an insulation material is less effective it will have to be used in greater quantities, and the choice of material will also impact the fastening method, for instance. A material with better insulation properties will also generate more energy savings and diminish the long-term environmental impact. The general conclusions are quite simple:
  • The lifespan of insulation in the building envelope is high: once manufactured, the insulation will be effective for a very long time without the need for maintenance or replacement. So choose sustainable building systems with a long life.
  • The level of insulation of a construction has a greater influence on the environmental impact than the nature of the insulation material. Insulate as well as possible to limit energy consumption and opt for high-performance insulation materials such as PIR.
Characteristics for buildings
Correlation between EPD and BREEAM
BREEAM stands for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method and it is a certification method for the sustainability of buildings. Apart from the building itself, its management and use is also evaluated. Developed by BRE in the UK in 1990, this method is one of the most commonly-used in the world today. In Belgium, the rules of the new technical standard BREEAM International New Construction (NC) 2016 apply since March of 2016. Our EPDs help raise your building’s BREEAM score. UNILIN is the only manufacturer of PU insulation boards with their own EPD.

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