A new platform established by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and funded by the Munich-based Wacker Group to promote the awareness of and expertise in sustainable building and construction has been launched. Officially entitled ChangeLab! WACKER / KIT Innovation Platform for Pioneering Sustainable Construction, the project is aimed at the institute’s students and at architects, engineers and construction experts seeking information regarding materials development and construction methods for a circular economy. This information will be available on the ChangeLab! website changelab.exchange, which is now also live.
The project is an ambitious one and includes plans for public lectures, symposia and idea competitions, all of which will be posted publicly on the website. Wacker is also providing sponsoring a digital overhaul of the department’s materials library.
The goal of the innovation platform is to forge stronger ties between researchers and actors at the various stages of the construction sector supply chain. The project is scheduled to last three years. The Wacker Group expects to reap substantial benefits from this collaboration with KIT.
“Even in times of the coronavirus, sustainability remains a top priority for us”, said Peter Summo, president of the Wacker Polymers business division. “We are deliberately laying down a marker for the development of sustainable technologies in the construction sector. This is a matter of strategic importance to us.”
Wacker Polymers, a major producer of binders based on vinyl acetate-ethylene copolymers, already uses biobased acetic acid sourced from the timber industry to manufacture binders for interior wall paints, for example.
“We rely on discussions with experts at every stage of the value-creation chain to keep driving the adoption of these kinds of sustainable, innovative approaches”, explained Summo.
“The ChangeLab! platform creates the environment for discussions of this kind among all participants.”
For the KIT, gaining Wacker’s support for its ChangeLab! platform will provide a huge boost for its work, said Prof. Dirk E. Hebel, the leader of an expert group within the Sustainable Construction unit at the Institute for Building Design and Technology at the KIT’s Department of Architecture.
That group has been conducting research and practical work on sustainable materials resources and closed-loop construction principles since 2017.
“Climate change and the question of how we want to deal with increasingly scarce resources in the future must become central issues in the everyday thinking, acting and building of our discipline," Hebel said.
The innovation platform is open to students, those active in the construction and engineering industries, experts, and material scientists. The plan is to expand it over the coming months into a forum for discussion and experimentation.