Reimagined – Recycled & Reusable – The new poster child of low carbon construction innovation.
The construction industry is regularly criticised for its obstructive old school collective amnesia. “Don’t fix what ain’t broke” and “we have always done it this way, its too risky to try something new” or “we tried it and it failed”. This culture is the reason why building materials drive over 50% of annual global carbon emissions.
Around 25BC, Vitruvius invented concrete and the market for formwork to facilitate his concrete structure artistry. Formwork (and concrete) have changed little since that time. Cut down a tree, create a flat surface, use more timber to fix temporarily into place. Pour concrete, remove formwork, discard and repeat until the structure is complete. If you are efficient about it, get two or maybe three uses from a down-cycled tree shard.
Depending on the type of building, the structure can drive 10-16% percent of the total materials carbon footprint. Formwork constitutes about 7% percent of the structure and therefore, up to 2 percent of the total building embodied footprint. Traditional timber formwork is almost 100 percent waste within only two to three uses. It is also requires highly skilled labour inputs to deliver high levels of surface finish. All of which is inefficient, time and cost intensive.
For many years I have been searching for a solution to traditional timber formwork. Recycled content permanent steel formwork (Bondek type material) is 20-25% less carbon intense per meter square over timber, which is a good next step, but now we have a 95% reduction solution!
“Geoplast” is a modular reusable plastic formwork system that reimagines formwork for the 21 st climate constrained century. Recycled, reusable ABS, self-supporting plastic forms with only 5% of the embodied carbon content of timber formwork. It is cheaper and also has the beauty of eliminating the need for hardwood tree harvesting. How elegant the historical irony, that yet again, it is the Italians who are delivering the new age to the construction industry.
As we have previously written, that it is generally the case that low carbon design solutions tend to also be less costly (i.e. money saving) – which is the case with the Geoplast system. This is a simple, elegant and resource efficient means of reducing the materials carbon footprint of your design by 2% and saving money in the process. For a 10,000m2 building this could be up to 300,000 kg of CO2 in absolute terms avoided – that is the annual carbon footprint of about 42 Australian homes.
More information about how Geoplast compares to other formwork can be found in The Greenbook.