All products discussed in this book are in common use or have recently been used in the construction industry. It has been beyond the scope of this book to discuss the various national or supranational (such as the EU) regulations and restrictions on singular materials. This is also a complex field where new regulations and principles, not least relating to sustainability, are fast emerging.
Since the materials are arranged and discussed in groups, compound materials with components belonging to different substance groups will often be encountered, such as woodwool cement boards, made up of wood shavings and cement. In such cases, the product is listed according to which of its components has the largest relative volume.
There are also cases where a material has, for example, both structural and climatic characteristics. Such materials are included in the main summaries and tables in both of the relevant sections, but the main presentation is to be found where it is felt that this material best belongs.
A number of approaches and recipes for alternative solutions are described. In cases where no specific sources are mentioned, these are the author's own proposals, and have no legal or financial liability. In some cases, recipes with less well-documented characteristics are also presented in order to provide historical and factual depth.
Terms such as 'artificial', 'synthetic' and 'natural' are always somewhat controversial. In no way are these meantto implyanassessmentof quality. All raw materials used are originally natural. In artificial/synthetic materials, however, the whole material or part of it has undergone controlled chemical and other treatment processes, usually involving high levels of heat. The extraction of iron from ore is a chemical process, whilst the oxidization or corrosion of iron by air is a natural process.
The definition of biogradability used in the book is limited to materials undergoing decomposition primarily through enzymatic action of micro-organisms to carbon dioxide, methane, inorganic compounds or biomass within a limited period of time. Photodegradation, oxidation and hydrolysis of, for example, synthetic polymers, are not regarded as biogradability.
The main greenhouse gases and toxic compounds are presented in Table 2.3 and Table 2.5 in Chapter 2. Here they are defined by their
Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) registry number, since several names are often used for the same compound. Compounds listed in these tables are given a grey colour when discussed elsewhere in the text parts of Part 2 and 3.
For the sake of readability, the extent of referencing given directly in the text has been limited to cases involving assertions and hypotheses that may appear surprising or controversial and therefore need to be documented in particular. A comprehensive list of suggestions for further readings is to be found at the end of each Part.
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