The need to completely decarbonise the built environment by 2050 is evident. The built environment generates 39% of annual global CO2 emissions. The day-to-day operation of our buildings is responsible for 27% of these emissions, while the materials and construction practices make up the remaining 13%. To limit global warming to a maximum 1.5C, 100% of buildings must operate at Net Zero carbon by 2050, with all new buildings operating at Net Zero carbon by 2030 – just seven years away. So how can this be achieved?
To begin with, there needs to be a clear understanding of what it means to decarbonise new buildings. Firstly, the materials used to construct the building must have net zero embodied carbon. Secondly, the house must be net zero operational carbon once it’s built. And thirdly, the house design must incorporate circular economy principles.
In County Wexford, South East Ireland, work is already underway on Project Net Zero Home near MEDITE SMARTPLY’s wood-panel manufacturing facilities. This exemplar new-build house aims to demonstrate how to put the above theory into practice, with the aim of achieving Net Zero Carbon.
Using Net Zero Carbon design principles, the home will be extremely energy efficient, built using advanced timber frame construction and high-performance engineered wood products from MEDITE SMARTPLY and will employ a Whole Life Carbon methodology that will provide a true picture of the home’s impact on the environment over its entire lifetime. This includes its reuse, demolition and disposal.
As there is currently no Building Regulation requirement to measure embodied carbon or make any attempt to reduce carbon emissions from building materials or construction processes, buildings can easily achieve ‘operational net zero’ but built with materials that are not environmentally friendly. Project Net Zero Home aims to replace as many carbon-intensive materials with low-carbon alternatives (such as wood) as possible, to minimise the embodied carbon emissions of the building.
MEDITE SMARTPLY products will play an important role in achieving Net Zero. Speciality SMARTPLY OSB and MEDITE MDF products, along with other low carbon building products will ensure that the home meets the highest standards of energy efficiency and sustainability. SMARTPLY products include PROPASSIV for the walls and ceilings, and ULTIMA for the flat roof and garage. MEDITE products include MEDITE TRICOYA EXTREME for the kitchen kicker boards, integrated dishwasher door and insulated front door, and VENT for the walls, flat roof and garage.
David Murray, Head of Technical Affairs and Ireland Sales commented: “I believe we’re on the verge of a timber revolution because finally, Governments have recognised that the answer to reducing carbon emissions from construction is to build with more wood.
“The house has been designed using ‘Fabric First’ principles, which involves maximising the performance of the components and materials that make up the building fabric, before considering the use of mechanical or electrical building services systems. In this way, the project will demonstrate how engineered wood products can maximise airtightness and occupant comfort, while eliminating thermal bridging and other moisture-related risks. This fabric first approach will also reduce the need for maintenance during the building’s life.
“Wood is a fantastic building material. Not only is it a natural and renewable product, but it’s unique ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere enables us to turn our timber frame homes into long-term carbon sinks that lock away carbon deep within the building structure, and when the building finally reaches the end of its life, these wood products can be safely reused or recycled.”
The building of Project Net Zero Home comes at a time when MEDITE SMARTPLY has set its own sustainability goals: moving towards carbon neutrality by 2030 – and ultimately – becoming a net zero manufacturing company by 2050. Follow the progress of Project Net Zero Home with MEDITE SMARTPLY via a new video series, technical animations, 3D virtual tour, and in-depth product demonstrations throughout the build process: https://mdfosb.com/en/sustainability/our-sustainable-solutions/project-net-zero-home.