Mythbusting: How green are these green building solutions?

(Eco Business, 11 Oct 2019) The number of green solutions on the market has exploded as industry looks for ways to fight climate change. But do they really live up to the marketing hype? Eco-Business asks the experts about four much talked about green products on the market.

As sustainable building technologies evolve, so does the hype around them: hundreds of products and services for today’s urban building industry are marketed as “green”, with much publicity given to properties such as energy efficiency, low carbon footprint, and even air or water purification. But how sustainable are these products and services, really?

Eco-Business asked industry experts to weigh in on four urban solutions that have been making the news: alternative construction materials, green walls, smart or solar windows, and air purifying paints.
1. Bamboo as an alternative construction material

Last year, a materials engineer in the Philippines, Earl Forlales, won the 2018 Cities for our Future competition with a low-cost modular housing design made from bamboo. International judges considered it highly viable as a solution for chronic housing shortages in the Philippines, and Forlales has already started a business to manufacture the houses of his design.

 While bamboo is a sustainable material common to this region, it comes with its own challenges.

“The use of bamboo is widely debated in the construction industry,” says Martin Gui, group managing director of interior fit-out firm Facility Link. “Within an office setting, where maintenance and proper cleaning is regularly scheduled, [the use of bamboo in construction] is not usually a problem, but in areas of high traffic and heavy wear and tear, it can become a problem.”

Professor Erwin Viray, head of architecture and sustainable design at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), is more optimistic. His colleagues at the university’s Architectural Intelligence Research Laboratory have been researching the viability of bamboo in construction, and have successfully experimented with outdoor structures using bamboo struts held together with 3D printed joints.

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Eco Business, 11 Oct 2019: Mythbusting: How green are these green building solutions?