With sustainable construction and living being a big focus for new development, especially for Government projects, and all eyes being focused on the Barangaroo Development in Sydney, developer for the project, Lendlease was fully committed to a range of sustainability initiatives.
One of their targets was a 20% reduction in Embodied Carbon (EC), covering the sum of all greenhouse gas emissions created during the manufacture, transport and installation of building materials for the project.
Embodied Carbon (EC) is the sum of all greenhouse gas emissions that are created over the life cycle of a product, from cradle to grave, which encompasses product development, product use and product deconstruction and disposal.
Barangaroo incorporates a number of different buildings, each of which have varying opportunities to reduce EC during the construction process and beyond. The first buildings under construction were the Alexander and Anadara residential buildings, located on the western fringe of Barangaroo South, overlooking Sydney Harbour. The buildings consist of 159 apartments, with a ground level retail space which amounts to a combined floor space of 18,225 square meters.
With Knauf’s existing commitment to reducing the environmental impact of their manufacturing and installation processes, and with internal plasterboard wall linings making up a significant proportion of the building materials, this presented a substantial opportunity to investigate ways to reduce EC.
Lendlease approached their Alliance Partner, Knauf Australia to explore ways that they could work together to reduce the carbon footprint associated with the supply and installation of plasterboard for the project, knowing that it would make an important contribution to their target of reducing the EC levels.
Identifying with the challenge, Knauf Australia, who began reducing its carbon footprint in 2009 as part of their dedication to their sustainability and environmental management system, embarked on a programme to accurately quantify the emissions associated with the manufacture, installation and deconstruction of their plasterboard, and obtain a carbon neutral certification under the Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS). Achieving carbon neutrality occurs when the net greenhouse emissions of the product or organisation are equal to zero.
With the full support of Lendlease, and a head start from their commitment to sustainability, Knauf Australia achieved carbon neutrality for the three plasterboard products, MastaShield, WaterShield and FireShield that were used at Barangaroo.
The first step of the process was to accurately document and measure the Knauf existing environmental and energy efficiency measures in the manufacturing process.
These measures incorporated activities such as the recycling of waste heat in the plastermill, heat exchangers installed on dryers, a decrease in water usage, optimised mixing processes, a move to natural light and LEDs in the factory, waste reduction and ongoing staff training for operational efficiency and behaviour.
Energy efficiency is a key sustainability indicator for Knauf, and quantifying and recording this was a key factor in achieving carbon neutrality. Consumption is managed daily and tracked and reported monthly by major fuel source. Their energy consumption is measured internally and externally and they are benchmarked internationally within the Knauf Group. Both the Matraville and Altona plants are independently certified for a number of International Standards, including those for Environmental, Quality and Occupational Health and Safety Management.
The final stage of the process was to offset the EC that could not be reduced in the manufacturing process, also taking into account carbon emissions that might occur during deconstruction and disposal of the products.
Knauf uses qualified providers of offsets that will meet the NCOS standard requirements but that also meet their own criteria of providing a strong social responsibility aspect, in this case bringing social and environmental benefits to communities in Kenya through the Lifestraw Project, and that replace carbon intensive energy use with renewable energy.
As these three products in the Knauf Australia range are now opt-in carbon neutral products, the support of Lendlease for the project was vital.
“Having the partnership of Lendlease, and their commitment to significantly lowering carbon emissions, meant that we were able to commit resources to creating a carbon neutral program for these products that could then be rolled out for future projects and allow Knauf to be able to offer a carbon neutral option to meet sustainable design requirements.” – Kathryn Walker, National Sustainability Manager, Knauf Australia.
Whilst there are a number of companies that offer carbon neutral products, Knauf Australia is the only plasterboard manufacturer to successfully have met the standards of the NCOS to provide carbon neutral boards to the construction industry.
Read more about our commitment to sustainability and the Knauf Carbon Neutral Opt-in Program.