It’s Not Easy Being a Green Building Products Manufacturer
Becoming certified as environmentally friendly, green building products manufacturer, and using sustainably managed resources costs time and money and the onus is almost always on the manufacturer to go through the process, rather than any regulating organisation certifying all building products on the market.
What It Means To Be Green?
“Greenwashing” is defined as spin or marketing messaging deceptively designed to promote the perception that a manufacturer’s products are environmentally friendly when in fact they do not meet required standards.
If a manufacturer does not have a genuinely green product, chances are they will either have no green certification at all, or they will employ greenwashing in an attempt to dupe customers.
The Green Building Council South Africa is one of 75 members of the World Green Building Council, and is an independent certifier of green buildings and materials helping the construction industry at large to move towards building projects that are designed, built and operated to be as environmentally sustainable as possible.
Grahame Cruickshanks, managing executive: market engagement at GBCSA, says the certification process can be based on supporting documentation and testing data with which GBCSA can assess the green credentials of a product, or a third party can verify that the product meets stipulated requirements on GBCSA’s behalf.
Such third parties include the Forestry Stewardship Council, a global certification agency whose endorsement verifies that timber resources have been sustainably managed from forest to retail outlet. Becoming certified by the FSC is a rigorous process examining the chain of custody of all timber products, which is why supposedly comparable competitor certifications created by manufacturers are essentially worthless because they make no guarantees about provenance.
“The standards we use at GBCSA are globally comparable and manufacturers are seeing the value in compliance because there’s a market advantage in being a green option. But we’d like to see more uptake in South Africa. The total number of buildings that choose to go green is still quite small and the focus remains on operational consumption of energy and water, rather than green building materials.”
Cruickshanks says properly compliant brands can take advantage because few building material manufacturers are really at international standard. Brands like Eva-Last, which are endorsed and certified by a range of local and international agencies, have the certificates to prove that their products really are green.
“Customers should do their homework carefully and find out which labels are actually verified, independently benchmarked and audited. That adds legitimate value. It’s important to not just take the product’s claimed credentials at face value,” Cruickshanks says.
Does Environmentally Friendly Decking Cost More?
There is a perception of higher cost associated with green products. “Green products do tend to be premium products and should be compared as such, but studies of capital expenditure on green building projects in South Africa have shown that the premium actually averages at 3.5% of cost, and that’s for materials, water systems – the whole package,” Cruickshanks says.
“The premium actually averages at 3.5% of cost, and that’s for materials, water systems – the whole package.” - Cruickshanks, GBCSA
Nathan Chapman, owner of Eva-Last, which manufactures and distributes decking products which provide alternatives to hardwood timber, says the company’s manufacturing 135 000m2 facility in China made the decision in 2017 to go completely off the power grid. This project will be complete within the next 12 months and the transition to solar power will save the burning of 8 tons of coal daily, and 43 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every day.
This is in addition to making use of recycled plastics to manufacture its proprietary decking materials, which are made up of 60% bamboo fibres and 40% recycled plastics. In 2017 alone Eva-Last produced enough recycled plastic in its products to have removed 70-million plastic bottles from landfills. That is the equivalent of 2000 tons of plastic which could have polluted the environment.
In 2017 alone Eva-Last produced enough recycled plastic in its products to have removed 70-million plastic bottles from landfills.
Bamboo is a sustainable, rapid-growing grass which requires no pesticides or fertilisers to grow, and no chemical treatments are required during manufacturing of Eva-Last’s products – unlike in hardwood timber decking products – so soils and groundwater will not be polluted when they are installed. Eva-Last’s manufacturing process also produces just 2% wastage, compared with a total of 87% wastage of timber between tree and decking panel.
Inspired by Nature, Designed for Life
The company’s slogan is Inspired by Nature, Designed for Life, and it shows in not only thoughtful choices for the environment, where even Eva-Last’s distribution channels are chosen to have the minimum emissions and carbon footprint possible, but also in the brand’s slew of green awards.
Eva-Last has won multiple Greenest Product awards at Decorex and Homemakers Expo in South Africa. Angela Chatfield, senior customer relationship executive for Decorex, says when it was clear the world was moving towards green products and buildings and the green award at Decorex was created, Eva-Last was the clear winner a number of times.
“It’s not easy to win that award. The judging criteria are strict and the judging panel was of a very high level, constituted of experts in their fields.” - Chatfield, Decorex.
Chatfield says the issue with some technically environmentally friendly decking materials is that they do not have longevity comparable to that of Eva-Last’s products.
According to Chapman, it just makes sense to use timber alternatives if the performance is even better than that of timber. “It saves forests. Not one tree gets cut down to make Eva-Last decking products. And we make the highest-performing product which is now the most affordable on the market. The research and design spend is still there, but our solar power savings are now filtering through to the customer, so in fact there is no green premium to install the market’s most sought-after product.”
Eva-Last’s 2011 Climate Change Leadership Award, acknowledging the company’s efforts to tackle climate change and reduce environmental impact, combined with its certifications by the FSC, GBCSA, as well as standards organisations around the world is really the defining statement that proves Eva-Last customers can feel safe in the knowledge that their decks are environmentally friendly, sustainably produced and designed to last.
The company invites any current or potential customer to inspect its certifications, endorsements and supporting documents to verify Eva-Last’s credentials as the leading producer of timber alternative decking products in South Africa.
Eva-Last® is a globally recognised and trusted brand that manufactures and distributes specialised bamboo-plastic composite products and building solutions, namely, decking, cladding and indoor flooring. With over a decade of experience in all stages of the industry, from production to installation, Eva-Last® has both practical and technical knowledge that is used to assist owners, developers, architects and building professionals alike in achieving their design objectives. Eva-Last® strives to continually improve and innovate, delivering revolutionary composite products and attentive support to all customers.
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