European Architects foresee more use of bio-based building materials

A key trend in the European construction market still is sustainability. Based on the European Architectural Barometer (research amongst Architects in 8 countries, based on 6,400 interviews annually) we did see a slow down of this trend during the crisis and recently due to the lower prices of fossil fuels. For example, in Germany the percentage of projects where sustainability was asked for by the principals has declined from 55% in 2013 to 45% now. We do expect a rise again towards 56% in 2020. In other countries this percentage is higher. One trend which is closely related to sustainability is the increasing use of bio-based materials in the European construction industry. Biodegradable plastics and bio-based polymer products based on renewable agricultural & biomass is at the basis of more sustainable building products that can compete with products based on petroleum. Furthermore, more traditional materials like Hemp are used more and more. The idea of ‘growing’ building materials instead of using fossil fuels, with long cyclical lifecycles of millions of years, is very attractive. Especially since nowadays building materials often have a shorter lifespan, after which they end up on the dump. The building industry already has a significant environmental footprint, both in terms of energy consumption and GHG emissions. It’s estimated that almost half of the non-renewable resources used worldwide are used in construction. So there is a huge potential for bio-based building materials. We like to test these trends with architects, because they have a large influence on how buildings will be constructed in the future. The results show a clear picture; A high number of European Architects think that bio-based building materials will be used more in the (not so distant) future. Especially in France (63%) and Italy (57%) this is already seen in projects. In Poland (29%) and the Netherlands (24%) this trend has not yet been seen by a larger group of architects. But again, more than three quarter of the architects in these countries think this will happen in the next few years as well. In 4 European countries, the share of architects who mention there is already more use of bio-based building materials is higher than 50% We will of course be tracking this trend to see how it develops over the year. Fore more information Dirk Hoogenboom