The concept of ‘green building’ is yet to be understood in totality by builders and consumers alike. The one question that most consumers have while selecting a product for their projects is whether the product is ‘green’. What they do not realise is that a project is certified green or given green ratings based on the process and not on the product. It is therefore important to educate the consumer that it is not the product but the actual building which is certified green. The Green Building Council needs to lay special emphasis on this education. However, the product manufacturer has to declare certain information on the basis of which the building is finally rated.
The points that matter to a product manufacturer are–the kind of raw material used in manufacturing, the manner/process in which the product is manufactured, where is the product manufactured and why is the product manufactured in a particular manner.
One of the basic misconceptions of consumers is that more the recycled material used in a product, more the amount of recycled content (pre or post consumer) – more ‘green’ the product is. However, it is important for consumers to note that each product has its particular end use. Addition of any material – recycled or not will ultimately change the end use of a product. The trick is to keep the end use formidable. This ensures that there is no deviation in the end product that reaches the consumer while at the same time, the manufacturer is making the product better and greener. There is a need to integrate backwards and agree on the actual amount of material or process that can be recycled in such a manner that it does not affect the end use of the product.
This is the ideology that AMF comes from. Our products are made under three very important aspects – it should suffice to the reason why the customer is using the product. Therefore, AMF is concentrating on Acoustics, fire protection and the overall ability of the product to suit the interiors visually. The product should fit into modern interiors without losing out on its inert green properties or qualities.
The second aspect that is considered is that when a product is manufactured for a purpose, it is manufactured with a certain recipe. Every product has a different recipe because it has different uses – for instance, in a very large open hall there is a possibility that the voice echoes. The role of acoustic tiles is to reduce this reverberation time. This means that the acoustic tile product needs high levels of absorption. However for the ceiling in a small room or an office cabin, sound does not need to be absorbed. In an office cabin the percentage of absorbing material in the room is already in place through chairs, soft boards and the human body.
The consideration in such rooms is that the conversation inside the room is contained within the four walls of the room. Therefore the requirement in such a room is insulation, for which the product needs to be less porous and should have a higher density. For a consumer who wants to address both purposes while maintaining the uniformity of the visual, the trick would be to create a product with the same visuals but different densities. Effectively, two tiles with the same visual effect but with different properties are being used. When at the end of the project, these go into the recycling process, it becomes difficult to differentiate between the two. Therefore, the question should not be if the product is recycled but if the product is apt for its use.
The third aspect is the kind of raw or recycled material used in the manufacture of the product. It is important to remember that garbage ‘in’ becomes garbage ‘out’ at the end of manufacturing. AMF is very particular about the kind of raw material being used in our products. To ensure that the material is recycled, we make use of third party certified input ratings. Each product from the AMF factory carries a RAL Quality mark. This third party certificate states that we can use mineral wool for products which are placed within customer/human use since the wool is biologically soluble. AMF uses only natural raw material for its products and that gives us the Blue Angel certification which states that all the products are safe.
Therefore, it is important that the Green Building Council educate consumers on what is ‘Green’ and what are the products certified for. There is a need for the end users to believe in the product and not just use a product because it is being enforced upon them.
AMF is governed by all European Standards; furthermore, our biggest advantage is that we have only one manufacturing unit. So an AMF product sold in Europe or Middle East will be the same as is sold in India. All our products use the same ingredient, use the same formula and come from the same plant. We have signed up for clean and renewable power from the power suppliers – which means that 100% of the power used in our plant is coming from Solar or environmental friendly energy sources. We can also provide our customers with carbon credit certifications describing our plant process. We have the added advantage of being located in Europe and have the best of both worlds and awareness about the standards in each country. We can pick the best of all available standards and make products that are compatible with all or any standard.
We are also now partnering with other firms to come up with products that have a visual appeal. We are giving the customer the freedom to choose a product based on what he has in mind and wants to see on the ceiling. We have partnered with Heradesign to come up with ceilings that are visually appealing, provide high class acoustics, fire protection and are compatible for clean room applications.