As the construction sector is flooded with requests for environmentally sustainable buildings, cement, and the carbon created by its production, is getting a bad rep. While alternatives to cement are being researched, there is still very much a place and purpose for it particularly with the unprecedented construction demand in New Zealand.
Determined to avoid the unnecessary production of cement, Markham are adding life to concrete in Aotearoa and have made a strong commitment to reduce the environmental impact of its cement treatment products.
Through its recent Environmental Choice New Zealand (ECNZ) certification, the company ensures their premium quality products deliver best outcomes, for both users and the environment.
With concrete construction increasingly under scrutiny because of the greenhouse gas emissions from cement manufacturing, Markham wanted to prove their range of products have environmental benefits, and the team is proud that seven of its products which make concrete stronger and last longer are now certified with the ECNZ ecolabel.
Markham Design and Delivery Team Leader Hayden Prestidge says the stringent auditing process of the ECNZ ecolabel is enabling Markham to take their client satisfaction to the next level.
“While it’s not a quick and easy process, the satisfaction of qualifying is great. One thing that we were educated on is how important our operating procedures are, and not just for the product in question. Our modus operandi was scrutinised and tweaked where needed to achieve what was required for ECNZ certification.”
Markham products make concrete structures waterproof, protecting them from moisture and contaminants. They also cure and seal concrete, protecting floor coverings from moisture in concrete.
A major environmental benefit of Markham’s licensed products is they don’t contain any volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a large group of carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature, forming a gas. These are a common component of solvent-based coatings. VOCs are a key environmental factor assessed as part of the Paint specification the Markham products are certified under, as they can be both harmful to human health and contribute to the formation of atmospheric smog.
Several traditional treatments and elements for concrete protection can also be harmful and include toxins like silanes, chlorinated rubbers and toxic membranes. This is not the case for Markham products.
Through ECNZ licensing, positive changes were made in the entire life-cycle process of the licensed products. This included the big elements such as factory procedures and the machinery used, through to the recycling and reusing of components, and the finer details around how used pails are cleaned and products labelled.
Recently Markham has embarked on a journey to utilise locally-made colloidal silica as a base ingredient for its ecolabelled products.
This is significant as the ingredient is usually mined and processed in a factory, but Markham is instead sourcing it from suppliers who harvest it from the water and steam created as a by-product of geothermal power processing in Taupo.
The manufacture of colloidal silica in a factory comes with emissions, requirement for heat, and an extensive mechanical process. The Markham team turned to the Mother Nature, letting the earth deliver a cleaner and safer method as a by-product of renewable energy generation.
Taking the silica from the water reduces the impact on downstream ponds and waterways, as the geothermal waste has a residue which over time can affect local habitats.
As the product is locally sourced, carbon emissions during transportation are reduced immensely too.
The “Green” stars align
As Green Star certification becomes an integral aspect of design and construction in Aotearoa, having products that are acceptable to these builds is a big win for Markham.
Through the ECNZ certification, Markham’s products align with the criteria of the New Zealand and Australian Green building Councils. This makes it easy for their customers to identify their cement treatment products as having a positive environmental impact on their green builds.
For Markham being able to provide the industry and the environment with what it needs at the same time is a big win.
“Markham is proud to stay ahead of the curve and have a dedicated team driving sustainability. For Markham this is an ongoing exercise, not a once off!”