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March 2013

Welcome to this edition of the CAP’EM newsletter. In this newsletter we zoom in on the marketing approach, the development of  the webapplication, CAPEM COMPASS and our German partner.

The goal of the CAP'EM project is to promote eco-materials and to provide the construction industry with simple and practical tools to support their adoption.

March 2013, 
The CAP’EM team

Marketing and Sustainable building materials

The Dutch partner, Agrodome, has asked Michiel van Beek, Alpha Rainbow to develop a marketing strategy. Michiel van Beek explaines his view.

Alpha Rainbow
Alpha Rainbow is a consultancy in the field of market-oriented business. Together with our clients the organisation is working on the identification of needs and meet them with products and services. Alpha Rainbow helps Agrodome as the Dutch partner of CAP’EM to encourage, by means of the CAP'EM project,  sustainable construction in general, and the development and use of sustainable building materials in particular.

Alpha Rainbow has done market research into the perception of sustainable building, and sustainable building materials in particular.
  Brian Murphy, Greenspec

The main outcome from the perspective of the user is that there must be no concessions on quality. Sustainable building should be at least as good as traditional building. In addition to this, sustainable building is allowed to be only fractionally more expensive. Additional costs for a sustainable variant of a material must not exceed 5%. Another striking finding was that even if the product may yield significant savings during its lifetime, mainly the initial costs are considered. If these are relatively high, then the potential savings will often not win the purchase argumentation. This remains a concern.

When we look at the producers, the great enthusiasm of many and the drive to continue even in the current difficult economic conditions are remarkable. We also notice that the producers keep on talking about the product features instead of the benefits that these properties realize. It is our job to bring that into balance. Properties that lead to significant consumer benefits must be transferred in an emotional way  in order to change the behavior of the decision taker. We need to hit the user's head and heart.

Building boulevard
One of the tools we use to increase the focusing on sustainable construction and sustainable building materials is the website Bouwboulevard (Building Boulevard). This website is a virtual exhibition or fair where producers and consultants can furnish a stand to promote their products or services. The big advantage is that this fair is open 24/7-365 and that participation is possible for relatively low prices. Through a chat function it is also possible for the visitor to the virtual stands to ask targeted questions to the exhibitor. The stands are meant to highlight the products or services that require particular attention. It is therefore not a substitute for your own website or for a presentation at a physical fair, but rather a permanently accessible supplement.

Take a look at to see if and how this fair can be relevant for you.

In the future we will have to cooperate more closely with entrepreneurs in order to improve the marketing of sustainable building materials. No product sells itself, and that  applies also to the sustainable building materials. Therefore we are preparing a guide for the marketing of sustainable building materials. This guide, together with targeted seminars and workshops, will help to ensure that sustainable construction and sustainable building materials are going to play an increasingly prominent role.

Partner Zoom: HWK Germany

Office Agrodome build with biobased materials    The Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades Münster (HWK) is a regional body acting for 22.000 crafts businesses. It operates one of the biggest training centers for craftsmen in Germany - the HBZ - with 2000 training places and about 20.000 students annually. The training offered comprises vocational education, from practical training to further education, up to academy knowledge and generally emphasizes the innovative, future-oriented knowledge.

In the field of innovative building knowledge HBZ has been focusing on demonstration and information dissemination not only for its main target group, the craftsmen, but also for architects and the general public. HBZ therefore established a Demonstration Centre of Building and Energy already in 2004.
Office Agrodome build with biobased materials

In some respect this demonstration building with its exhibition served as a model and reference for the conception of the CAP’EM demonstration buildings and exhibitions. That is why HBZ directed the conception process for the CAP’EM exhibitions.

Within the CAP’EM project the HWK is now establishing a Demonstrations Building and Exhibition for Refurbishment. This refurbishment center with the CAP’EM showroom will have its domicile in a landmarked historic storage house next to the premises of the vocational training center.

Five questions for PRé

The last few years, CAP’EM has tested many sustainable building materials. The program asked the Dutch sustainability consultancy firm PRé to develop a web tool to access the databases in which the results of these tests are found. We asked Marisa Vieira, Senior Technical Consultant at PRé and Ellen Meijer, LCA Consultant at PRé  five questions to know the state of the art.

1. How did you develop the web tool?
CAP’EM asked for a graphical user interface (GUI) to easily display technical and environmental information of building products via the web. The interface was developed through a series of stakeholder workshops with the targeted audience of the GUI, namely architects, contractors, customers and other stakeholders connected to the building sector. Given PRé 20+ year experience in developing sustainability dedicated software, we were able to identify the needs of these stakeholders and combine them with the objectives of the overall CAP’EM project to come up with the ideal navigation and display. Also the development of the navigation was carried out in dynamic collaboration and feedback with the CAP’EM partners.
2. What were remarkable accents you learned during those workshops.
The targeted audience includes 5 different countries, some of which already have building specific standards/guidelines for communication of environmental information. This way, we had to first build consensus on a common approach before deciding how the tool would be developed. After overcoming this hurdle, we had to select the large number of functionalities to fulfil the objective of the tool. Another hotspot resulting from the workshops was the importance of making the information understandable for the targeted audience. This is crucial for the developing of a real successful tool. We had to dig into the nomenclature of the building sector and understand the importance of the different building elements and their functions.
3. The results of the CAP’EM test are rather technical, how did you make them accessible for  consumers?
To make the results accessible, the tool shows the impact of a material as the impact on three aggregated Areas of Protection: human health, ecosystem quality and resource depletion. These areas are easy to interpret and thus allow the user to make an informed decision without needing deep understanding of environmental effects. When more information is desired the impact of the material can be shown on 17 different impact categories, such as climate change, ozone depletion and acidification. These are more difficult to interpret without knowledge of environmental effects, but give a more detailed picture of the magnitude of specific impacts caused. So basically: by default the aggregated impact in 3 categories is shown, but experts have the opportunity to dig deeper.

4. How does the result look? How can the audience search?
When the user opens the tool he can search for a material by its name, but also by selecting a building element, e.g. foundation. This filters the available materials in the database to show only those that can be used for this building element. The materials can be further filtered by selecting its intended desired function, e.g. sound insulation. Another filtering possibility is to select certain preferences, such as the amount of recycled content or environmental labels. After making his selections the user is only shown the relevant materials and can easily select which ones he wants to compare.

5. Were there special constraints for you to overcome?
An important challenge was to assure an appropriate comparison between the materials. Since different materials can have different functions and require different quantities to have the same performance, it would not be correct to compare on basis of 1kg of material. Therefore the possible functions of the materials had to be determined, along with a calculation for the required amount of each material to fulfil these functions. The user now selects a function for the materials that are compared, which results in a ‘correct’ comparison based on the required amount of each material.

Thank you Marisa and Ellen, the results of your teamwork are now beeing tested and will be shown to the public before this summer.



  CAP'EM and Grow2Build

Results CAP’EM used in another Interreg project
Beginning of 2013, the Interreg IVB project ‘Grow2Build’ took off. Grow2Build is about the promotion of flax and hemp in building materials in NWE (partners in the Netherlands, Belgium –Flanders and Wallonia-, UK, France, Germany). It tackles problems, solutions and networking in the agricultural and basic processing sector, production possibilities, scientific research and the creation of a ‘centre of excellence’ at Brunel University (London), educational tools for the building sector and the general public, and technical and environmental information on flax and hemp building materials.

  In this project, CAP’EM partner VIBE plays an important role. They will, amongst other tasks, use the CAP’EM method to make LCA-calculations on the envisaged (actual and future) building products. The project partners will also try to get possible new building products in the existing CAP’EM demonstration centres.

This project thus contributes to the further use of the CAP’EM method and partnership.


Out and about   

Upcoming Events were CAP’EM is involved or part of

28 March 2013
Conference Natuurlijk Biobased Bouwen ?!
RDM Campus, Rotterdam (NL)

28 March 2013
Studiedag Duurzaam bouwen is goed, is biobased bouwen altijd beter?
Provinciehuis Vlaams brabant, Leuven (B)

18 and 19 April 2013
Final conference of Interreg IVb project Livinggreen and second conference ENVIREO
Old Townhall and TUD Campus Delft (NL)

25 April 2013
Duurzaambouwen een kwestie van doen – biobased en ecologische bouwmaterialen
Conference and Exposition
HAN, Arnhem (NL)

16 and 17 May 2013
Natureplus international conference and CAP’EM international LCA conference
Launch Capem Compass (CAP’EM building products comparison system).
Gent, Belgium

More information about these events: ....

Expositions, demo houses
The Envireo project has launched their mobile application
This application leads the user to demonstration buildings and infocentra from the four projects Regain, Livinggreen, Susstation and CAP’EM.
Globe 21
Globe 21 has started with their exposition at Chateaux Thierry (F)

Opening before the summer is expected from:
KHO Gent, June 2013 VIBE Gent(B)
Haus Kump, June 2013, HWK Münster (D)

Opening after the summer is expected from:
Huddersfield Station, Water Tower (UK)
Réhafutur, Loos-en-Gohelle (F)