Sustainable construction explained

The third Xperimania chat in collaboration with inGenious dealt with the topic “Sustainable construction” and took place on Tuesday 26 March 2013 from 14:00 till 15:30 o’clock (CET). During one and a half hours, students had the opportunity to ask questions, which they prepared with their teachers in advance, to three experts:

Pierre de Kettenis, Executive Director, CEFIC Petrochemistry Industry Sector (APPE)
Jacques Komornicki, Innovation Manager, CEFIC/Suschem
Maggie Saykali, Cefic Sector Group Manager for Plasticisers


20 schools from all over Europe connected online to join a live online chat:
Czech Republic (2), Estonia (1), Finland (2), France (1), Italy (1), Malta (1), Portugal (3), Romania (3), Slovakia (3), Sweden (1), and Turkey (2).

To hear the chat again, please click here:







The chat started with a general definition of sustainability, that was given by Maggie Saykali, in order to make it clear to the participants which meaning of the word experts refer to:   “Sustainability has many definitions but one that is generally acknowledged by most people as being the one that is closest to reality is that sustainability is the way in which the economic development of the world makes it possible to satisfy the needs of current generations without compromising the possibilities of future generations. Sustainability is not just a vague word. You have economic sustainability, functional sustainability and environmental sustainability”.

The experts were able to tackle a big number of questions ranging from fairly general to more specific ones. Students from Turkey raised a general question: “How can we insulate houses efficiently? Are there any new materials that help insulation?” Pierre de Kettenis replied to that: “We see that there is a major emphasis on increasing the insulation of houses. We can either use the traditional materials such as polystyrene and polyurethane that by far have the highest performances for the smallest thickness. Or we can use alternative materials with a better life cycle. Today people are trying to combine and optimise different materials to improve the energy efficiency of a house.”

There are also new techniques to demonstrate whether a building is well isolated or not. This was a concern of students in Estonia and Jacques Komornicki explained that “By doing a thermography which consists in taking pictures of the house from outside to inside using a special camera with infrareds, we can estimate the energy efficiency performance of the building. The red zones are hot and the blue zones cold. Houses can also be ranked in terms of energy efficiency by a letter code: “A” means that it is very energy efficient and “H” means that the house is very poorly isolated.”

Students from Portugal and Romania both had a more specific question and asked whether it is “possible to recycle the cement resulting from a demolished building?” Pierre de Kettenis informed the students that “recycling concrete is becoming a new trend and business.” Portuguese students further asked whether there “is there any solution based on permaculture, which will improve air quality in cities?” Ms Saykali first of all explained permaculture for those students who might not be familiar with this word: “Permaculture aims to implement the laws of nature in a daily life by taking advantage of everything we have at our disposal. It is a very new field.” Afterwards she mentioned a few examples of where Permaculture is already being used: “there are train stations and airports that are starting to develop this with vegetal roofs in order to provide good insulation and good ventilation.”

The type of questions that were asked by the students showed a very big interest by the young generation in topics as important as sustainable construction for our planets’ future. This characteristic is the best requisite for future scientists. Mr. de Kettenis expressed a few motivational words to the students at the end of the chat: “I think you are going to live a great time, because we are now at a turning-point, which we experienced probably forty or fifty years ago. We are moving to a next stage of resource, energy and waste management and there will be a need for intensification of research and development, a change in lifestyle, new design and consuming as little as possible resources. And to do this shift we will need a huge development. There is a great opportunity for you to play an active role in this shift so go for science, you will love it!”

The whole chat can be re-heard here and you can also read here the full transcript of the Q&A. Please join the Xperimania Facebook page and tweet about it on here. The winning students can win Amazon vouchers for them and their teachers. Don’t miss the chance!