Materials for a Healthy, Ecological and Sustainable Built Environment

Materials for a Healthy, Ecological and Sustainable Built Environment

Principles for Evaluation

1st Edition - March 23, 2017

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  • Authors: Emina Petrovic, Brenda Vale, Maibritt Zari
  • eBook ISBN: 9780081007068
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780081007075

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Principles for Evaluating Building Materials in Sustainable Construction: Healthy and Sustainable Materials for the Built Environment provides a comprehensive overview of the issues associated with the selection of materials for sustainable construction, proposing a holistic and integrated approach. The book evaluates the issues involved in choosing materials from an ecosystem services perspective, from the design stage to the impact of materials on the health of building users. The three main sections of the book discuss building materials in relation to ecosystem services, the implications of materials choice at the design stage, and the impact of materials on building users and their health. The final section focuses on specific case studies that illustrate the richness of solutions that existed before the rise of contemporary construction and that are consistent with a sustainable approach to creating built environments. These are followed by modern examples which apply some, if not all, of the principles discussed in the first three sections of the book.

Key Features

  • Provides a holistic and integrated approach to the issues associated with the selection of materials for sustainable construction
  • Provides a thorough understanding of ecosystem services based on ecology research for built environment design
  • Provides an original review of the impact of materials on human health
  • Provides case studies to illustrate the points above


Architects, building science and materials studies, designers, specifiers and product manufacturers and all those involved in the built environment, construction and sustainable development

Table of Contents

  • Part I: Selecting Building Materials for Reduced Impacts on Ecosystem Services: Ecosystem Services Analysis

    1. Utilizing relationships between ecosystem services, built environments, and building materials

    • Abstract
    • 1.1 Introduction: reducing the environmental impact of built environments
    • 1.2 Ecosystem services: definitions and boundaries
    • 1.3 Relationships between ecosystem services
    • 1.4 Defining ecosystem services for a built environment context: key places for change
    • 1.5 Descriptions of ecosystem services most applicable to a built environment context
    • 1.6 Conclusion: ecosystem services and the built environment. Moving towards a more positive relationship
    • References

    2. Ecosystem services analysis: Incorporating an understanding of ecosystem services into built environment design and materials selection

    • Abstract
    • 2.1 Introduction: a wider perspective on sustainability and the built environment
    • 2.2 Ecosystem services analysis and whole building or urban design
    • 2.3 Ecosystem services analysis and materials selection
    • 2.4 Benefits and difficulties of applying the ecosystem services concept to built environment design and materials selection
    • 2.5 Potential impacts on ecosystem services of common building materials
    • 2.6 Conclusion: Materials selection and ecosystem services. A shift in thinking
    • References

    Part II: Choosing Sustainable Materials

    3. Building materials

    • Abstract
    • 3.1 Introduction
    • 3.2 Materials that are grown
    • 3.3 Materials that are extracted
    • 3.4 Materials that are made
    • 3.5 Conclusion
    • References

    4. Materials and buildings

    • Abstract
    • 4.1 Choosing materials
    • 4.2 Designing to minimize building lifecycle impact
    • 4.3 Caveat: building users
    • 4.4 Choosing healthy and low-impact materials
    • References

    Part III: Indoor Toxicity from Building Materials

    5. A lack of recognition of potential health risks from building materials

    • Abstract
    • 5.1 Introduction
    • 5.2 The problem
    • 5.3 Beyond the challenges: three stages of recognition of health risks
    • 5.4 Conclusion
    • References

    6. Persisting issues with the most recognized building material health risks: Lead and asbestos

    • Abstract
    • 6.1 Introduction
    • 6.2 Issues with lead
    • 6.3 Issues with asbestos
    • 6.4 Conclusion
    • References

    7. How substances get regulated against in the building industry: Formaldehyde, phthalate plasticizers in polyvinyl chloride/vinyl

    • Abstract
    • 7.1 Introduction
    • 7.2 Overview of volatile organic compounds
    • 7.3 Issues with formaldehyde
    • 7.4 Issues with vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, and plasticizers
    • 7.5 Conclusion
    • References

    8. New and less recognized risks with building materials: Volatile organic compounds, replacement chemicals, and nanoparticles

    • Abstract
    • 8.1 Introduction
    • 8.2 On-going suspicion—volatile organic compounds from carpets
    • 8.3 Replacement and new substances
    • 8.4 Discussion on Stage 1 and conclusion
    • References

    9. An overview of health hazards from materials: Application of principles

    • Abstract
    • 9.1 Introduction
    • 9.2 Key commonalities in polymer sources
    • 9.3 Plastics—more solid polymers
    • 9.4 Disposal of plastics
    • 9.5 Film-forming finishes: paints, varnishes, and oils
    • 9.6 Biopolymers
    • 9.7 Radon
    • 9.8 Titanium dioxide (TiO2)
    • 9.9 Linoleum—a natural composite
    • 9.10 Timber
    • 9.11 Conclusion
    • References

    Part IV: Case Studies

    10. Sustainability and the material aspect of traditional residential buildings in Serbia

    • Abstract
    • 10.1 Historical, cultural, and social context
    • 10.2 Basic types of traditional rural and urban residential buildings
    • 10.3 Environmental features of building materials and structures
    • 10.4 Conclusion
    • Acknowledgments
    • References

    11. Palm thatched building in Mexico

    • Abstract
    • 11.1 Introduction
    • 11.2 Palm thatch building assessment
    • 11.3 Conclusion
    • References

    12. The effect of global trade on the New Zealand house

    • Abstract
    • 12.1 Introduction
    • 12.2 Background
    • 12.3 Material selection and data sources
    • 12.4 Discussion
    • 12.5 Conclusion
    • References

    13. Thurgoona Campus: A living laboratory of healthy and sustainable materials

    • Abstract
    • 13.1 Context
    • 13.2 The site
    • 13.3 Buildings
    • 13.4 Materials: evolving the detail
    • 13.5 Conclusion: the issues are complex
    • References

    14. The Hockerton Housing Project: A case study of the use of concrete

    • Abstract
    • 14.1 Thermal mass in zero-heating houses
    • 14.2 Thermal mass in the two projects
    • 14.3 Thermal performance of the projects compared
    • 14.4 Other considerations
    • 14.5 Conclusions
    • References

    15. Lambie House: Deconstruction and eco-refurbishment

    • Abstract
    • 15.1 Introduction: a domestic eco-refurbishment
    • 15.2 The builder and the clients: commitment to resource savings
    • 15.3 Reusing windows and doors
    • 15.4 Reusing the roof
    • 15.5 Recovering existing fittings and fixtures
    • 15.6 Materials: minimizing waste
    • 15.7 Conclusions: intentions, attitudes, and realities

    16. Meridian: New Zealand’s first Green Star-rated building

    • Abstract
    • 16.1 Introduction to New Zealand built environment sustainability
    • 16.2 Project site and design brief
    • 16.3 Materials selection
    • 16.4 Waste minimization
    • 16.5 Conclusion
    • References

    17. Sustainable and healthy building practice in Germany

    • Abstract
    • 17.1 Introduction
    • 17.2 Sustainable and healthy construction in Germany
    • 17.3 Example 1: A semidetached healthy residence
    • 17.4 Example 2: Energy-efficient water residence
    • 17.5 Conclusion
    • References

    18. The Bullitt Center: A “Living Building”

    • Abstract
    • 18.1 Introduction
    • 18.2 Living Building Certification
    • 18.3 Materials “Petal”
    • 18.4 Forest Stewardship Council Project Certification
    • 18.5 Material selection
    • 18.6 Product transparency
    • 18.7 Conclusion
    • References

Product details

  • No. of pages: 416
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Woodhead Publishing 2017
  • Published: March 23, 2017
  • Imprint: Woodhead Publishing
  • eBook ISBN: 9780081007068
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780081007075

About the Authors

Emina Petrovic

Dr Emina Kristina Petrović is a Lecturer in Interior Architecture at the School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, where she completed a PhD in architecture in 2014, and is teaching sustainability and interior architecture. Her research focusses on building materials and their conceptual and practical role in the sustainable built environment with a particular area of expertise in the impacts building materials can have on human health in the indoor environment. Petrović’s work emphasises the importance of informed building material selection for both the built and natural environment, calling for a more detailed consideration of building materials for the totality of their implications (from ecosystem health to ethics of production), asserting the important interrelatedness of these issues. Her other research interests include popular perception of sustainability and history of the 1960s and 1970s interdisciplinary studies of the built environment.

Affiliations and Expertise

Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Brenda Vale

Brenda Vale is an architect and Professorial Research Fellow, at the School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Working with Robert Vale, she wrote her first book on sustainable design in 1975. Following their award winning and energy saving commercial buildings in the UK for which they were both the architects, by 1998 they had designed and built the award winning first autonomous house and the first zero-emissions settlement there. After coming to New Zealand in 1996 they converted an existing house to be zero energy. They also developed the Australian Government’s National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS), now in operation. Their current research is in the field of ecological footprints and behaviour, which has led to two published books (Time to eat the dog? the real guide to sustainable living and Living within a fair share ecological footprint).

Affiliations and Expertise

School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Maibritt Zari

Maibritt Pedersen Zari is a Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Architecture at the School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate programmes in Architecture, Interior Architecture, Building Science and Sustainable Engineering. Her areas of expertise are biomimicry and regenerative design and the practical intersection of ecology and ecosystem services research within urban and architectural design. She has published extensively in these areas as well as on the relationship between climate change, biodiversity loss and the built environment and responses to these issues. Her publications seek to redefine sustainable architecture and urban design through mimicking ecosystems, changing the goals from sustainable to regenerative development, and integrating complex social wellbeing factors into sustainable architectural design.

Affiliations and Expertise

School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

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