The materials from which a building is constructed make a significant contribution to its overall impact on the environment. This impact is felt in a number of ways; locally. through the effects of activities such as quarrying; globally, as a result of carbon dioxide released by using energy used to manufacture the materials; and internally, in the effects on the health of the occupants of the building. Some of these effects are easier to measure than others. and comparisons between the seriousness of the different effects are difficult to make.
Ekoporten, a block of flats converted into an experimental sustainable building, is now 2+1/2 years old. The building is one of the most visited and debated projects carried out in Sweden in recent years. With the support of the Swedish Council for Building Research, researchers from the Faculty of Architecture, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm (KTH) have followed up and documented the experiment.
IEA Annex 32 Integral Building Envelope Performance is developing a number of test procedures and measures that can be used to compare and rate the thermal performance of alternative whole-wall construction technologies for residential structures. In this paper, we address sustainability issues and potential impacts building materials may have on the environment. Specifically, we describe the development of a whole-wall sustainability index.