How to incorporate cork in sustainable buildings?

Are we building for sustainable development and global goals? Do we want an architecture that respects the environment and social welfare? How to incorporate cork into sustainable buildings?

Torre Iberdrola (Bilbao) / Image: Very Bilbao

Sustainable buildings continue to be a present and future reality in our architecture. Thus, they help you improve the well-being and quality of life of the environment that surrounds you. It is important to build with a high level of efficiency. As you know, by reducing the resources that would be needed if it were not a sustainable building, such as energy, it helps to minimize pollution.

You can build with various biodegradable materials which are a great contribution to the sustainability of your building. Do you know the so-called ecomaterials?

Some of them, such as bamboo, wood or vegetable residues, are used in current constructions. Today we highlight cork as a sustainable and renewable material that does not cause damage to the tree during the extraction process. Extensive are its advantages during and after construction and building. Above all, we emphasize the cork for its non-damage to the environment, since once the extraction process has been carried out, the cork oak regenerates itself naturally. Its incorporation can be in floors, walls and ceilings, among other options. You will be able to see that it is an outstanding material in terms of sustainability and important for achieving great energy savings.

Some of the current sustainable buildings are the Acros Fukuoka in Japan, the Bosco Verticale in Milan or the Iberdrola Tower in Bilbao.

THERMICORK, the black expanded cork agglomerate, is a highly effective material in isolating the transmission of vibrations due to its elasticity. Also for its thermal and acoustic insulation thanks to its low coefficient of thermal conductivity. Therefore, it provides significant thermal savings and added value as it is sustainable.

Do not forget that it supports heavy loads and is resistant to fats, water and acids. The cork that you choose will be easy for you to transport and install. You will see that it has a low weight and easy handling. It is without a doubt your ecological material that brings great advantages to any reform, construction or sustainable building.

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How was the cork house built?

Cork has been used in construction since ancient times. Its capacity for insulation and lightness, as well as its resistance to bad weather, make this material a perfect piece of architecture. The appearance of cork agglomerates makes it possible to have a wide range of materials with specific and defined dimensions for their use. How was the cork house built?

The form of presentation of the cork agglomerates and their fundamental and intrinsic technological characteristics to the raw material, have an origin and explanation in their cellular construction. In other words, this is original and unrepeatable. Above all, cork is a plant tissue formed by cells in the shape of a regular polyhedron with 14 faces grouped in such a way that they do not leave any intercellular space. For instance, these dead cells are found in number of 30 to 40 million per cm3. This completely impermeable fabric would prevent the necessary communication between the living cells of the bast and the atmosphere. To avoid this, the testicular canals are reddish in color due to the oxidation of tannins.

The intercellular membrane has an extraordinary originality and complexity. Each wall that separates two adjacent cells is made up of five intimately joined lamellae of unequal thickness. As a wall, it is common to two cells, so each membrane is actually double.

Thus, it is made up of two outer lamellae of a cellulosic nature. Two thicker lamellae formed in turn by 100 to 150 alternate layers of suberin and wax, as well as a double central lamella that is lignified. The cells are interconnected by tiny channels called plasmodesmata. The different nature of the cellulosic fibers of suberin, wax and lignin, are perfectly arranged to act as a membrane of great tenacity and resistance. All this thanks to cellulose. In addition, it is absolutely waterproof thanks to the wax. Similarly, it has great chemical resistance due to suberin and adequate resistance in the axial direction thanks to lignin.

This description explains the unique characteristics of cork and its technological peculiarities which make it useful if not indispensable in so many applications. In addition, it should be noted that nature has forged a structure that is absolutely irreproducible by artificial means. How could a foamed material with cells formed by lamellae of different nature properly ordered be achieved?

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