The Buildings InfoHub provides resources for designers, architects, builders, and other actors in the construction value chain to support reducing the risks and impacts of chemicals in building materials.
Additionally, it provides information and case studies for policymakers, sustainability practitioners, and procurers to support the transition towards more sustainable and chemically safer building materials and products.
Chemical impacts of building materials and the construction sector
Whilst it is difficult to accurately attribute the chemical impacts of different sectors, it is known that the construction sector is a large contributor to global chemical pollution. Building materials and construction activities use vast quantities of bulk petrochemicals, industrial gases and speciality chemicals, such as concrete admixtures, coatings, adhesives and sealants.
In terms of revenue, it is the largest end-market for chemicals, ahead of other sectors such as electronics, household and agriculture, as shown in the table below.
|End market size
|Paper and packaging||130||702|
It is clear that 'business-as-usual' is not an option in addressing global chemical impacts from the buildings and construction sector. Both this sector and the global chemicals sector is projected to undergo significant expansion in the next decade and beyond.
The global chemicals market is expected to double between 2017 and 2030, with its associated construction segment estimated to expand by 6.2% between 2018 and 2023. The construction sector itself is estimated to be growing at 3.5% per year, with increased urbanisation in emerging economies expected to be a strong driver of this in the future*.
Explore the Buildings InfoHub
The Buildings InfoHub contains a variety of resources to support efforts to shift towards a chemically safer buildings and construction sector.
- The General Guidance page provides background information to the challenges of the sector, and resources to assist with developing chemical management strategies.
- The Materials page explores some of the main chemical hazards in common building materials and products.
- Conducting chemical assessment is a necessary step in sound chemical management, but is not always carried out to the extent needed. This page contains guidance resources and tools to enable actors at different stages of the value chain to assess the hazards they may be dealing with.
- The Chemical substitutes and alternatives page provides support for substitution of chemicals in products, or specifying alternative approaches and avoiding ‘regrettable substitution’.
- Resources on the Policy and Guidelines page explore policies around the world that seek to phase out harmful chemicals in the buildings and construction sector and help transform markets towards safer alternatives, including the role of public procurement.
- The Case studies page includes best practice examples of approaches to managing chemicals of concern, as well as profiles of building materials and products with improved chemical safety profiles.
- The Databases page provides links to global databases of building products that have been assessed against sustainability certifications or other criteria related to chemicals.
(*Figures are taken from the Global Chemicals Outlook II)