Gypsum industry offers solutions for resource-efficient and climate-friendly construction

The climate debate and the increasing shortage of housing in urban centres will drastically change construction practices. On top of this come increasing costs for building land and an already clearly noticeable lack of skilled workers. The demand for affordable housing will rise further. The construction industry has to rethink, utilize the existing stock of buildings more effectively and reduce the raw material input, e.g. with the use of high-quality recycled construction materials. Intelligent, resource-efficient and climate-friendly construction methods are needed. The gypsum industry has been working for years at full force in this direction and is developing innovative solutions in response to current requirements.

One possibility is urban redensification with the addition of storeys to buildings (vertical enlargement). Here, high activation potential of areas already used in attractive inner-city locations is available to create new housing space, and at the same time to develop and upgrade valuable building fabric. Another example is the conversion and continued use of housing that no longer meet requirements and unused office space for the creation of new housing space. Here, too, there is great potential in the existing building stock. In the construction of new housing, it is necessary to pay greater attention to the use of construction methods that, with flexible layouts, enable adaption to meet future requirements. A precondition for these new approaches is, however, the use of suitable construction methods. The key to maximize this potential lies in the systematic use of innovative lightweight construction technologies with lightweight steel or timber construction technology. An essential advantage lies in the low weight of these construction methods, making the addition of storeys and conversion possible in the first place. In combination with increasing prefabrication of elements or modules, quality and dimensional accuracy are improved considerably and the increasing lack of skilled workers at the construction site counteracted. Construction times are shortened at the same time.

Gypsum based construction products are leading building materials in modern upgrading and lightweight construction, which provide healthy indoor climate, high sound insulation, and fire protection. In addition, gypsum is basically 100 % recyclable.

On 01.04.-02.04.2020, together with the German Gypsum Industry Association and Eurogypsum, the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar will stage the 4th Weimar Gypsum Conference. Besides new developments in the application of gypsum, in 2020 the focus will be especially on issues concerning the importance of “gypsum as an indispensable construction material for modern lightweight construction”. Current developments to safeguard the future supply of gypsum raw materials, once FGD gypsum from coal-powered electricity generation is no longer available, are another key topic at the conference.

The 4th Weimar Gypsum Conference will be stronger in its European focus. With the decision of the European association Eurogypsum and the Association of the Russian Gypsum Industry to act as co-organizers of the conference, a wide European participation is expected. It is important to learn from other countries, as many of them in Europe have already recognized and are utilizing the benefits of modern lightweight construction.

Holger Ortleb

Managing Director of the German Gypsum Industry Association and the Research Association of the Gypsum Industry

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