Projects » Product Innovation » Circular plastic building materials

Groothuisbouw is an innovative builder using prefabrication to produce custom build houses. The company is a frontrunner in the building industry.

Groothuisbouw located in Emmeloord is a company that constructs houses using an industrialised system and customer specifications. Using a collection of property types, customers can chooses their preferred version even down to the level of rooftiles and gables. These houses are constructed (prefab) at their own production location and can be build within 3 days at the prepared site.

Groothuisbouw uses traditional materials, like wood and stone. They would like to know whether plastics would be a suitable alternative.  And what this would mean both for the sustainability impact of the houses and their own production process. The advantages of plastics compared to traditional building materials are the low weight, the isolating properties, the slight maintenance, the possibilities for integration and the possibility to use recycled plastics.

To make the possibilities viable for  Groothuisbouw and to develop prototypes,  we have set up a chain project. In this project an architect, a producer of roof duct systems, an injection moulder, an extrusion company, a composite producer,  a producer of isolation material, a plastic collector and a plastic recycler.  Together these companies created several new and unexpected product ideas. The possibilities seemed to be endless.  Three of these ideas have been developed into prototypes. The accompanying energy and environmental impact, compared to traditional products, has been calculated using an LCA. The positive impact turned out to be major.

The thee products 

  • Composite dormer, using polyester resin with glass fiber and a gelcoating with zinc powder. Less maintenance, installation costs and materials;

Smit Composite has developed a composite dormer with a higher fluid and crack density than a traditional wooden dormer.  The lifetime is prolonged and the installation is easier. The gelcoating gives the dormer a luxurious appearance. Groothuisbouw intends to market the new dormer as an exclusive product and aims to have six models in their showroom soon.  Our preliminary LCA shows that this composite dormer lowers the CO2 impact with 21 % during production and use compared to the traditional wooden alternative.

  • Composite chimney, replacing bricks and a steel frame with a lightweight composite structure and sawn stone strips creating a sightly finish. The stone cover plate was also replaced with a composite look-a-like. 

Smit Composite has designed and developed a new chimney, which is 71% lighter than a traditional chimney.  Smit used a composite structure,  outlined with sawn stone strips that can replace the steel frame and bricks.The stone cover plate was also replaced with a composite alternative. No LCA has been conducted for this chimney.

  • Integrated cornice, using one piece of recycled pvc to create the fascias and trim. Meaning less production and installation costs.

For the third project  Profextru has researched a cornice of recycled PVC. This PVC was orginally used for PVC window frames.  By using  injection moulding it was possible to create a cornice in one part and to integrate different functions. This saves maintenance and installation costs. Als the weight is much lower than that of a wooden cornice.  Groothuisbouw researches the possible production volume, with this information Profextru can decide whether this cornice will be viable for their production facilities. The provisional LCA shows that a plastic cornice lowers the CO2 emission with 35% when compared to the wood alternative.

Advantages of a chain project

A product development approach involving the valuechain means that knowledge and ideas from different angles are shared. Using a (circular) chain approach, forces you to have an intergral look at solutions and prevents incomplete solutions that turn out to be problematic at the end of the first operational phase of a project. This practical approach means producers have greater understanding of the impact of their design and suppliers gain insight in the possiblities.

Groothuisbouw can now bring the new solutions to market.  Valuale contacts have been made and knowledge was shared, even with parties that did not take part in the sessions. Moreover this project has led to a publication:  the Dutch magazine Netwerk van de Nederlandse kunststofindustrie published two pages on this project (June 2017).

Advantages for the construction industry

This project is not just about new knowledge for Groothuisbouw and its partners; it is an example for creating value in the (often) traditional building industry.  For example by working together with an adjoining sector, such as the plastics industry.  By breaking the invisible borders between sectors, new opportunities arise to work more efficient, precise and sustainable.

Like to learn more?

Contact: Ingeborg Gort

This chain project was done with support of RVO.nl  

* Participants in this project:

  • Groothuisbouw, builder
  • Ubbink, producer of plastic roof products
  • Profextru, developer of eco-friendly products made from recycled plastic
  • Omefa, plastic injection moulding
  • Smit Composite, producer plastic composite products
  • Isobouw, producer isolating building products
  • Van Gansewinkel, waste operator;
  • QCP, supplier plastic compounds from post-consumer waste;
  • Bureau SLA en Overtreders W, architects experienced in applying recycled plastics
  • NRK, federatie Nederlandse kunststof en rubberindustrie
  • Innovatielink, MKB steunpunt Topsector Chemie (initiator of the project)