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“Low-pollution construction” – easy with the right insulation materials

“Low-pollution construction” is becoming increasingly important in the construction industry. This is as true for the private construction of houses and apartments as it is for the construction of offices, commercial spaces and public facilities. Industry experts observe a real “trend” towards a low-pollution approach to construction. There is a range of insulation concepts prevalent on the market which are designed to achieve a high degree of energy efficiency, and to ensure that as much of the utilised energy as possible remains in the living and working areas; however, some of the materials used are often not aligned with the specifications for low-pollution construction. It is hence also possible for pollutants to be brought into the space, and then to remain there.

This situation is particularly sensitive in light of the fact that we spend the majority of our lives in interior spaces. This means that, when constructing and operating buildings, it is essential that no health risks of any kind are caused through the use of the building as a result of pollutants. In particular, employers should note that room hygiene and comfort can promote people’s well-being and performance. As well as creating financial advantages, this also offers another significant benefit, as comparatively low levels of illness are recorded in low-pollution office buildings. The use and processing of low-pollution construction materials is also a basic requirement for the prevention of allergic reactions, and therefore the maintenance of health and ability to work.

Pollutant-free: the focus of planners and principals

Legal specifications such as the European Construction Products Regulation and certifications such as BNB, DGNB, Sentinel Haus Institut, or Minergie-Eco also support pollutant-free construction as a pertinent issue. For new builds, it is inherently advantageous if parameters for room hygiene are defined by the principal right from the stage of invitation to tender and order placement, and then verified when the building is handed over. This means for planners: the focus in product development should be oriented on eliminating the ingress of pollutants in the property from the outset, where possible. Subsequently dealing with pollutants that have already been brought into the building is generally both time-consuming and expensive.

A targeted decision in favour of low-pollution construction makes a huge difference in non-residential buildings with ventilation systems in particular. In this process, the pollutant balance of the overall building is used as a basis, pursuant to DIN EN 15251 “Ventilation of non-residential buildings”. If the defined requirements of “low-pollution” or “very low-pollution” are taken into account as early in the planning stage as those for the ventilation system, the system design can be correspondingly smaller. Some of the cost savings potential for the building that results from this are significant.

Kaimann: inherently low-polluting insulation components

The European Association for Healthy Construction and Interior Space Hygiene (EGGBI) has also defined criteria in addition to the substances currently measured – volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and formaldehyde – that can be used to declare building materials as low-polluting. Kaiflex insulation materials take these criteria into account. The following list provides an overview of the criteria fulfilled by Kaiflex insulating materials, and why they are suitable for low-polluting construction.

 

Fundamental test requirements

Kaiflex insulating materials / accessories

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a gas at room temperature, and a substance that has a pungent, irritating odour. Inhaling formaldehyde over an extended period of time can cause symptoms such as allergic reactions, as well as eye, airway and skin irritation, in addition to headaches and tiredness. This substance has also been classified as carcinogenic since 2014. Its main areas of use in the construction industry are for varnishes, adhesives and fibrous insulating materials.

Kaiflex synthetic rubber insulating materials are free from formaldehyde.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile organic compounds take the form of a gas at low temperatures. They cause irritation to mucous membranes, as well as dizziness, tiredness, nausea and – in very severe cases – organ damage. The main areas of use for VOCs in the construction industry are varnishes, adhesives, paint strippers and thinners.

Kaiflex adhesives are free from VOCs and are ideal for use with Kaiflex insulating materials.

Mildew and its spores/gases (mycotic volatile organic compounds (MVOCs))

Mould is formed when construction materials are exposed to a very high level of humidity over an extended period of time, and/or there are temperature differences, such as between pipework and the ambient temperature. Mildew secretes both spores and volatile gases into the room air, which may result in allergic reactions, eye irritation and respiratory diseases.

The closed-cell synthetic rubber in Kaiflex insulating materials makes them resistant to damp, and as a result they are also resistant to fungi and bacteria.

Fibre dust and fine dust

Fine dust and artificial mineral fibres (AMF) may enter the lungs through the airways and cause cancer. However, AMFs that are classified as safe do not cause cancer, and can be used without concern.

Kaiflex insulating materials are closed-cell materials, and are therefore fundamentally free from dust and fibres.

Heavy metals

Heavy metals do not degrade in organisms, and may accumulate in the food chain. Apart from iron, every heavy metal is more or less dangerous to the environment and health, and with different dose-and-effect relationships. Heavy metals have specific effects on organs, and therefore cause individual sets of symptoms. (1)

Kaiflex insulating materials are free from heavy metals (such as cadmium and lead)

Legionella

Legionella bacteria propagate in residual water in pipework that is stagnant for an extended period of time. If the water is subsequently not heated to 60°C, the bacteria survive. Then, it is not the water itself that is dangerous, but the vapour. This can cause Legionnaires disease (i.e. inflammation of the lungs) when inhaled.

Kaiflex insulating materials ensure that the temperature in the pipes remains consistent, and does not offer any nutritional basis for bacteria.

Sound

Noise pollution occurs as a result of insufficiently insulated floors, walls, roofs and pipework. The background noises that this causes can impair both concentration and well-being.

Kaiflex insulating materials contribute to noise insulation for pipework, air channels and technical systems such as air-conditioning, heating and control cabinets, and ensure compliance with statutory requirements.

(1) www.wecobis.de

Construction product documentation

In order to verify and fully document that construction products are low-polluting, manufacturers may request the documents that need to be provided if the construction product is distributed in Europe. These include:

  • General building inspectorate approval
  • The declaration of performance
  • The technical data sheet
  • The safety data sheet

Kaimann of course complies with the obligation for documentation. The corresponding documents can be accessed at any time at our service area.

 

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