EPDM – Why this material is a sound Sustainable choice:
As Architects we are very well versed in waterproofing and roofing options, be they slate, zinc, fibreglass, felt and so on, and we have used many over the years, some traditional, others less so.
At Modulr Space Ltd all of our designs are just dressed in a single EPDM rubber membrane to keep them waterproof, in fact – if you look at our Small Space offices – they are entirely clad with EDPM and also expanded cork.
Our suppliers of EPDM are Carlisle Construction Materials Ltd. I’ve taken this explanation of what EPDM is from their website:
‘EPDM stands for ethylene propylene diene monomer, which is a bit of a mouthful, so it’s commonly shortened to EPDM or EPDM rubber.
EPDM gets its name from the chemicals (monomers) that are mixed together in various proportions to form it. These are ethylene, propylene and diene. The ethylene content is usually between 45% to 75%.
The diene monomers, while only form a small part of the composition of EPDM, provide the cross-linking that gives incredible resilience, flexibility and durability. The excellent material properties of EPDM come from this molecular mesh structure and make it unbeatable in terms of elasticity and resistance to ageing’.
EPDM rubber is often hailed as being the most environmentally friendly method of keeping the weather out and because it’s approved by the no-nonsense environmental campaigners, Greenpeace, we know that this is more than the common and easily made claims of other systems. In their report, “Building for the Future” Greenpeace ranked EPDM membranes the highest for their low-environmental impact. What other possible accolade could one ask for in terms of recommendation?
EDPM is highly durable with a life-expectancy in excess of 50 years, it’s re-usable and much of it is actually made from recycled rubber used in tyre manufacture, so this keeps that waste material from being incinerated. Additionally, when the life of the membrane does come to an end it is 100% recyclable too, often finding its way into other uses such as playground surfaces, and general matting and so on. Manufacturers routinely carry the ISO14001 Environmental Management System certificate to demonstrate their commitment to sound good practice.
At Modulr Space Ltd we also love the fact that unlike other options EPDM is completely non-toxic and therefore won’t pollute rainwater, which might otherwise leach into the groundwater. This means that there can be no harm to the environment or wildlife. In turn that means you will be able to harvest rainwater from the roofs of our units without concern that you will pollute your own environment. Should you choose that option with our units, this is especially good news when coupled with green systems like a green (sedum) roof as they’re completely comparable with each other. If you wanted to go further still and install Photovoltaic Arrays (solar panels) on the roof then they are equally compatible with all the EPDM manufacturers offering solutions to easily do so.
Finally, a study for the industry in the States concluded that EPDM membranes had the lowest global warming potential when tested against other roofing types such as bitumen felt [which is part derived from crude oil] or PVC for instance. At some 6.93 kg CO² per square foot that is nearly half that of the next closest material studied.In light of the above we felt confident that EPDM was firmly in line with the environmentally conscious specifications we believe to be so crucial to underpin our designs.