We asked Klaas Decuypere, Global VP Building, for his perspective on Earth Day and how Aliaxis is helping to tackle climate change.
What does World Earth Day mean for you this year?
Like everyone at Aliaxis, I welcome Earth Day’s focus on climate change. We must continue moving towards a low carbon future which is a focus of my own work at Aliaxis in the Building team.
I particularly welcome the emphasis Earth Day is putting on building alliances to tackle climate change. This is key in our own work – forging partnerships not just in industry, but also wider society too with institutions such as Heriot Watt University in Scotland, a world leader in water drainage. Read the blog from last month here.
Can you give more specifics on how the Building team is tackling the climate change agenda?
There is growing public awareness that construction and buildings have high carbon footprints (accounting for a 35%-40% of global CO2 emissions). Everyone in our industry knows that has to change.
The onus is therefore on us to anticipate and respond to this trend, including with sustainable water management solutions that can make a material difference to a building’s performance.
We also have a role to play in helping the industry move to a ‘circular economy’. This means keeping resources in use for as long as possible, extracting maximum value from them during their lifecycle and recovering and regenerating product materials at the end of their service life. The nature of our products means we can make a significant contribution, when each step from concept and design through to end-of-service recovery are considered from a ‘circular’ perspective. This is the greener alternative to the traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) and is a particularly big focus for our European business right now.
An example of our work in action is a new drainage system in France called HomeTech which is 20% comprised of recycled materials, and is 100% recyclable. This product is easy for plumbers to install through an adapted design; has strong functional benefits including acoustic minimisation; and an excellent fire resistance. This is a real win, win as it means it is not just better for the environment, but also for our customers too.
Can you give us a good example of sustainable building design?
Torre Universal is a prestigious new office tower, under construction in San José, the capital of Costa Rica. This project involves a 22-story tower that will house technology companies such as Microsoft. Torre Universal is a testimony to San José’s ambition to become a technological innovation hub in Central America.
The emblematic project will be exclusively equipped with Aliaxis hydro-sanitary systems. The tower is the first in Costa Rica that will be 100% supplied with the Aliaxis active drainage ventilation system. This technology is exclusive to Aliaxis and is the best technical solution for drain ventilation in tall buildings.
How will the role of Aliaxis in building design and development change in the future?
The One Tower-project in Limasol, Cyprus, is a good example of the direction Aliaxis is headed: not just offering products but providing complete solutions and strategic advice for real-life issues, also including practical training for the construction workers and on-site follow-up from the expert team.
How important are partnerships in delivering this climate action agenda
True success on this agenda needs success at scale, as Earth Day recognises. Within our own industry, we are working closely with our commercial partners across the building sector and this is already delivering results, as these examples show.
For example, we are joining forces with distributors and recyclers to collect post-consumer materials to transform these into new materials for future products. We are also re-thinking our supply chain with suppliers and distributors to reduce inefficiencies and reduce carbon footprint; and we are reducing waste for contractors by tailoring shipments to the specific needs of every construction site and supplying our goods with less packaging.
Meanwhile, our digital solutions support engineers, contractors and builders with accurate content, design and installation tools. This is making the construction process more efficient from conception to installation more efficient, eventually leading to a reduced carbon footprint. We are also co-designing solutions with the builders of modular buildings to enable new constructions that involve less waste, and less re-work.
What role are trade organisations playing to drive this agenda?
We value our membership of trade bodies such as The European Plastic Pipes and Fitting Association which co-signed last year the Circular Plastic Alliance Declaration. This agreement increases industry’s commitment to recycling and uptake of recycled content in new products to 10 million tons by 2025, and others can still sign up to the pledge too.
The role that the European Commission played in this agenda with its European Plastics Strategy underlines that we must recognise the key role of other stakeholders across society in pursuing this sustainability agenda, including our colleagues at Heriot Watt University.