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“Decarbonizing construction processes”: climate-friendly construction is possible today

Many solutions in the field of natural construction are already at our fingertips – not only for individual enthusiasts, but also for large-scale housing and public construction – this is the keyconclusion from the meeting summarizing the “Decarbonizing construction processes” project.

Today, natural construction is not confined to open-air museums – in its contemporary form, it is based on the optimization of construction process, prefabrication and production of low-carbon, biodegradable, low-processed materials. Its functionality and aesthetics do not differ from buildings constructed using conventional technologies. Moreover, natural materials and technologies – including: construction timber, straw bale, hempcrete, or clay and lime plasters and paints – are good not only for the environment, but also for the health of residents.

The project implemented by IOŚ-PIB (leader) and the Polish Association of Natural Construction (OSBN – partner) promoted the practical application of these materials and the principles of circular economy in construction.

Activities within the framework of the project covered many areas, including:

– guidelines, recommendations, models and tests – including the “Investor’s Guide”, a practical compendium of knowledge about natural materials and construction technologies; recommendations for the development of the natural construction market, prepared on the basis of consultations with selected representatives of the industry; a model for calculating the carbon footprint in the life cycle of building materials, or fire tests of prefabricated timber-straw walls and hempcrete.

– educational programs – Additional Vocational Skills programs for vocational schools (for the professions of “carpenter” and “bricklayer-plasterer”), a curriculum for universities and a Polish translation of the STEP program (Straw Bale Building Training for European Professionals).

– workshops and webinars – conducted by practitioners from OSBN, regarding, i.a.: timber and straw construction, natural plasters and paints, or designing environmentally-friendly buildings – all in all, over 600 people took part.

– a multimedia exhibition presenting natural building techniques and materials as well as solutions in the field of circular economy. It was part of the project’s exhibition at construction fairs, which also included a workshop space, a demonstration structure of timber and straw, and a IOŚ-PIB stand. The Institute received the main awards for “Innovative solutions” at the InterDOM Fair in Łódź and for “Form of trade fair promotion” at the LUBDOM Fair in Lublin. In total, the exhibition was viewed by almost 18,000 people.

The “Decarbonizing construction processes” project brought the practical applications of modern and functional natural construction to the attention of diverse groups of market participants – investors, producers and contractors – in relation to buildings of various scales and purposes.

This is particularly important given that reducing CO2 emissions in the construction sector is a necessity – in just a few years, regulations will come into force that will impose this obligation on producers and contractors, so it is worth preparing for them today.

The project entitled “Decarbonizing construction processes – introducing zero-carbon natural building materials, including timber, to circular economy in the construction sector” is implemented by IOŚ-PIB (The Institute of Environmental Protection – National Research Institute) and OSBN (Polish Natural Building Association). It is financed with a sum of 744 951 euro by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as part of the EEA grants. The aim of the project is to enable the development of the natural and timber building sector and the implementation of the principles of circular economy in the Polish construction sector. Working together for a green, competitive and inclusive Europe.