European architects predict strong increase in use of sustainable materials in construction

Construction projects using sustainable materials are on the rise. In many product categories ranging from insulation to finishing, traditional products (e.g. concrete and ceramic) will be used less and sustainability-related products such as LED lighting, glass, water saving fittings and daylight solution are becoming more popular. These are some expectations regarding the usage of sustainable materials of European architects in the European Architectural Barometer Q2 2018 report. In the European Architectural Barometer USP Marketing Consultancy has asked 1,600 architects in eight European countries on their expectation regarding trends in material usage.

Sustainable materials gaining ground

Architects expect that sustainable materials will be used more in construction in the coming five years than non-sustainable materials. This trend can be seen across a wide variety of product groups, from the sourcing of raw materials to the finishing of buildings. 

In the category insulation products, for example, natural materials (e.g. hemp and sheep wool) and mineral insulation materials (e.g. mineral and glass wool) are expected to be used more by the vast majority of European architects, particularly by those in Germany, France and Italy. The opinions are divided with respect to the future usage of PIR/PUR: architects in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy expect a strong decrease, whereas those in Belgium and the Netherlands see a more positive future for these materials. Polystyrene (EPS/XPS) appears to suffer the most from the sustainability trend and is expected to be used less in the coming five years, although this is not true in all countries (usage is expected to increase in the Netherlands and Poland for example).

Perceptions of sustainability also matter

Flooring is a product group that becomes relevant at a later stage in the construction process that is also affected by the trend towards more sustainable products, although in a different way. Architects predict that Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) will become more popular whereas textile-based carpets will be used less in the coming years. These tiles are made from non-recyclable materials (e.g. PVC), but are durable and long-lasting products. Moreover, the flexibility in design offered by this type of flooring means it can realistically replicate hardwood or stone flooring. The combination of these features explains part of the increasing popularity of Luxury Vinyl Tiles.

About the methodology

In the European Architectural Barometer, USP Marketing Consultancy asked architects in Europe to indicate whether they expected construction materials to be used more or less in the coming few years. The balance of these answers is a good indicator of the future usage of materials – a positive number indicates that there are more architects that expect the use to increase than there are those that expect a decrease in the particular material. The results of this analysis are presented in the figures.

About Archvision Q2 2018 – Trends in Material Usage

In this edition, architects were asked about their expectations towards the usage of certain products within their residential and non-residential projects. Also they were asked which of the currently on-going trends in the construction industry is influencing the usage of products in certain product groups most. One of the purposes of these theme questions is to recognize relevant trends in the eight European countries when it comes to product usage in the coming years.

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of Dirk Hoogenboom

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