Sustainable fa├žades: design and responsibility

Sustainable construction

09/08/2022

For many architects, the search for more environmentally-friendly ways of building is now a priority. Today, sustainable façades are one of the cornerstones of sustainable architecture and building.

Sustainable constructions are no longer the future, they're the present. The Nantes Post Office building is a prime example, where a Krion® Lux façade has been used to improve energy efficiency; as are the headquarters of fashion brand Zamasport, where the building enclosure demonstrates the perfect fusion of technology and creativity, highlighting that in all of them, ecological construction materials were used.

sustainable facade

Project: ZAMASPORT HEADQUARTER

ArchitectFRIGELIO DESING

Photography© MARIO FRUSCA

Sustainable construction: no sacrifice involved. Design and luxury can go hand-in-hand with sustainability, as you can see in the wide range of PORCELANOSA Group constructions endorsed by sustainability hallmarks.

But what exactly is sustainable construction? Can buildings made in anything other than wood and bamboo be sustainable?

What is sustainable construction?

It is a type of construction based on the following rules:

  1. Respect for the environment. Sustainable construction always takes into account the place where it is going to be built, instead of destroying its surroundings, it adapts and takes advantage of the elements that surround it for its creation.
  2. It optimises existing natural resources. In keeping with the philosophy of making the most of natural resources, this type of construction collaborates with nature instead of going against it.
  3. It respects ecological principles. An attempt is made to justify the purpose of the construction and its favourable impact on future generations and the environment. It minimises social costs and its impact on the environment as much as possible by promoting recycling, reusing resources and emitting a low pollutant gas footprint.

Advantages of sustainable façades

A façade is made sustainable not only by taking the environment into account when manufacturing its materials, but also by how the material behaves during its useful life. In this regard, façades, like the creative wonder crafted by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava for Expo 2020 in Dubai, have the following advantages:

  • They do not alter the ecosystem or the area where the building is located, or the location where the material used was manufactured.
  • In some cases, such as with green façades or those made using KRION, the material has a purifying effect on the air surrounding the building.
  • They improve the energy efficiency of buildings, especially when certain building techniques, such as ventilated façades, are also used.
  • They are recyclable. Once the useful life of materials with a high mineral content, such as KRION, is over, they can be recycled to provide new resources for other construction.

Sustainable construction techniques

Sustainable construction techniques first became evident in construction in the 1980s, when the concept of "sustainable development" emerged.

These techniques focus on a type of construction that not only does not pollute the environment where it is built, but that minimises the ecological damage caused during the manufacture of the materials.

Naturally, the selection of materials plays an essential role in determining whether a construction project is sustainable. To determine if it is, a series of guidelines apply:

  • The material is produced fairly and sustainably.
  • The material is not polluting.
  • It consumes little to no energy during its life cycle.
  • It comes from a source that is found in nature in abundance and that is easily renewed.
  • At least some of the material is recyclable.

In order to develop sustainable construction techniques, it is essential that the materials meet these requirements.

KRION's solid surfaces meet all these conditions, making them a favourite option for architects looking to build sustainable buildings.

Sustainable building materials

We only need to look to nature to find an endless number of sustainable construction materials, and architects and builders are now turning to these materials to ramp up sustainability. Natural façades are defined by their use of these materials.

  1. Bamboo now holds an indisputable place on the list of top sustainable materials. It's resistant, durable and completely eco-friendly. But there's a major disadvantage - the cost - as there aren't many bamboo plantations dedicated to producing construction materials.sustainable bamboo facade
  2. Rock is one of the most-used materials in construction given its strength, resistance and compliance with the three Rs: reuse, recycle and reduce. But it's important to think about how hard the material is to work with: it's difficult to adapt it to bespoke designs. So whilst this material may blend seamlessly into its natural surroundings, it's altogether harder when it's being used to design a bespoke home.
  3. Straw bales are gaining ground as an eco-friendly construction material. These constructions come with a number of advantages, the bales are lightweight and easy to adapt to various architectural designs. But - and this is important - in practice, their flammable properties and level of water absorbency make them a much less resistant eco-friendly material.
  4. Wood is the natural construction material par excellence; there's no doubt that this widely-used material benefits from a significant number of advantages in terms of technical and environmental performance. And wood is equipped with a skill that stays with it throughout its useful life: its photocatalytic properties. But it's by no means the perfect material: it's susceptible to fungi and mould and vulnerable to fire.

sustainable wood facade

Krion® Lux in sustainable buildings

A building needs to comply with a number of requirements in order to be classed as sustainable. These include being built in recyclable materials or providing a level of thermal insulation that leads to a considerable reduction in energy consumption.

Using Krion® in sustainable constructions ticks these boxes - and more. Krion's solid surface takes sustainable façades (and other applications) to the next level.

sustainable krion facade

Project: TERRAZAS DEL LAGO

Architect: ESTUDIO DE ARQUITECTURA MORPH + INMOGLACIAR

Photography: © LUZESTUDIO FOTOGRAFÍA

The ventilated façade is, to date, the most efficient construction system for building envelopes. Thanks to the way it is built, there is an air chamber that separates the interior from the outer wall.

This has many effects on the structure:

  • It saves energy.
  • It enhances the building's thermal and acoustic insulation capacity.
  • It prolongs the service life of the façade.
  • It prevents condensation and humidity from building up in the windows of the flats or offices in the building.

Building a completely efficient construction using Krion® Lux in every room is now a reality. So which technical properties make this material a better option than all the other natural façade options we've looked at?

Krion® Lux is a 100% recyclable material, composed of two-thirds natural minerals and a low percentage of high-strength resins. This gives it outstanding technical properties, including high resistance against fire, extreme weather and temperature changes, and colour stability upon exposure to UV rays.

And because it's almost completely non-porous, it prevents bacteria from proliferating on its surface and stops fungi from developing or thriving, making it a much better choice than wood in this regard.

sustainable krion facade

Project: NANTES POST OFFICE

Architect: SIXIEME RUE ARCHITECTURE & URBANISME

What's more, the material is easy to repair and maintain and can be adapted in an infinite number of ways. It can be thermoformed or moulded, cut and worked in the same way as wood.

Krion® Lux is the sustainable material par excellence. It has all the advantages of other sustainable façade materials and more on top, making it a truly unique solid surface.


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