Why is it so important to use sustainable building materials?
Buildings use huge resources, many of which are harmful to the environment and the inhabitants of the building. We now have the opportunity to be more selective in the materials we use, as there is an ever increasing range of materials that are better for the environment, if carefully chosen, they will work better for longer and, when used in the right way, can contribute to a healthier indoor environment reducing allergies, asthma and respiratory diseases by assisting to regulate moisture and humidity.
What is a green building?
A green building is one that reduces its impact on the environment in the materials selected, energy used to run it and how components can be reused at the end of the building’s life.
What sustainable materials are available on today’s market that could transform the construction industry?
Sheep’s wool insulation, recycled foamed glass and cork. Sheep’s wool insulation, which is made in the UK from the wool not used in textiles & carpets etc. As well as being an excellent insulator, it can also help keep the building cool in summer, control moisture, remove toxins from the air and provide soundproofing.
Recycled foamed glass is made from 100 percent waste glass (which annually, saves approximately 32,000 tonnes of waste glass from going to landfill) that is an excellent insulator that also controls moisture which can be used in sheet form as a non-flammable insulation board or 40-60mm hard-core under floors in both new build and refurbishment.
Cork is a great example of a material that is 100% natural and completely recyclable and 93% of the energy needed to produce it comes from using its own dust as biomass. The cork tree can be harvested every nine years, rather than having to fell the entire tree and over the course of its lifetime (approximately 200 years) each tree can be stripped 17 times. Cork provides excellent thermal and acoustic performance for external & internal walls and ceiling applications whilst being hypoallergenic and fire retardant. It is also impermeable to liquids & gases which enables it to age without deteriorating.
What steps can the average homeowner take to make their home environmentally friendly and reduce their everyday CO2 emissions?
Before making any major improvements, the first thing they must do is maintain the building. Clean gutters, down pipes and drains, make sure the building structure is kept dry (a dry building is 40 percent more energy efficient), reduce drafts through poorly fitted windows and doors by fitting curtains, blinds or shutters and then consider an appropriate insulation for the building type and architecture.
What are wood wool boards and what are their benefits?
Wood wool boards are made of shredded wood, marble dust and Portland cement. Portland cement is used to make them economic to produce and durable enough to be used either as a self-finished facade board or a plaster carrier that incorporates sound, moisture and thermal control. They are also natural sound absorbers and provide important features including: thermal inertia, breathability, ability to absorb excess humidity; as well as lack of drips, absorption of dense fumes and toxic gas in the event of fire make them safe; they are dimensionally stable, even with high humidity, giving sturdiness and unlimited longevity, making them ideal for heavy-duty use such as in swimming pools, gyms, schools and industrial buildings.
What are the differences between Non-Hydraulic Lime and Natural Hydraulic Lime (NHL)? How will I know which is more appropriate for my home?
Non-hydraulic lime (also known as lime putty or fat lime) is the softest, the most breathable and the most flexible. It sets slowly and its characteristics provide a material highly suitable for building, pointing and plastering as well as making into limewash.
Natural Hydraulic Limes get stronger and are faster setting as you go up the range but they also become less flexible and breathable. Speed of set and strength is not always appropriate so they should be chosen according to the building and location. NHL2 is suitable for most render applications in the UK and external pointing, NHL3.5 can be used for renders in more exposed locations and pointing chimneys whereas NHL5s are reserved for foundations, floor slabs and copings. It is always recommended to seek advice before choosing the lime for your project.
What advice would you give to a consumer looking for the best supplier of high quality and sustainable building materials?
They should look for a supplier who offers a range of products and advice for their particular building. Some will also offer training and site visits to help find the best solution.
Are insulation options only available through a professional or am I able to install them myself?
Sheep’s wool insulation can be bought and installed by non-professionals but it is important that any installer understands the importance of good installation and should seek advice before buying.
Established in 1995, by Nigel and Joyce Gervis, Tŷ-Mawr Lime Ltd is an award-winning business which has made an enormous contribution to resurrecting the use of traditional building materials and has gone on to become a market leader in the design, manufacture, and distribution of environmentally-friendly building materials and systems, providing a ‘one-stop’ shop to clients throughout the UK.
Tŷ-Mawr’s products include a full range of non-hydraulic and hydraulic limes, mortars, plasters, paints, Thermafleece® Welsh sheep’s wool insulation, Glapor® Recycled Foamed Glass, Homatherm woodfibre and expanded cork insulation boards, reed boards and reed mats and specialist aggregates. For information on any of these products or to find out more about their LABC-registered systems for floors, walls and roofs visit: www.lime.org.uk.