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Fossil-Free Pipes in Construction: A Project in Gothenburg Sets New Sustainability Standards

19. July 2022 | 4 min read

Hoppet (“Hope”) is an innovation program and a framework initiated by the municipality of Gothenburg, Sweden. The program envisions 30 different construction projects focused on innovations and recycling to minimize the resulting environmental impact. The goal of the first project was to build a fossil-free preschool in Gothenburg in line with the city’s long-term climate strategy. Pipelife Sweden worked together with the raw material supplier Inovyn to produce and supply 100% fossil-free PVC sewage pipes for the project.

The Entrance of the Hope Preschool | Pipelife © Hanna Björk, lf.goteborg.se

Testing New Materials and Practices

The city of Gothenburg has set a goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2050. To meet this ambitious target, innovations are needed in several sectors, and the Hoppet project offers a new vision in the field of construction. The exploratory program examines to what extent the construction technologies and materials could become fossil-free and climate-neutral.

The work on the first project within the Hoppet program started in April 2018. Working closely with industry experts, innovators, entrepreneurs and suppliers, the municipality wanted to build a sustainable public preschool in the city. Among other sustainably sourced construction materials, the project requested fossil-free piping systems. According to project standards, pipes made from recycled materials were also considered fossil-free.

The yard of the Hope preschool | Pipelife © Hanna Björk, lf.goteborg.se
A close-up of a Biovyn pipe manufactured for the Hope project | Pipelife

100% Fossil-Free Pipes Become Reality

The project initially was against using PVC pipes. While nowadays PVC piping systems are produced to meet the highest health and safety standards, industry bias toward this material still exists.

Confident in the quality of their production, Pipelife Sweden decided to offer 100% fossil-free PVC pipes for the project. This was possible as Pipelife has well-established cooperation with the raw material supplier Inovyn.

The company uses timber left as waste from the forest industry to make specialist-grade, bio-attributed PVC, based on a mass balance concept — marketed under the name of Biovyn. The process saves more than 90% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventionally produced PVC, according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials. 

Furthermore, Biovyn has the same outstanding material qualities as conventional PVC — a combination of high flexibility and durability, an estimated lifetime of at least 100 years, and the possibility to be recycled once the product’s service life has expired.

The clear environmental benefits and the product quality convinced the Hoppet project team that Pipelife’s pipes would be the best fit to meet their sustainability objectives. In total, Pipelife supplied more than 600 meters of Biovyn fossil-free sewerage pipes together with 300 meters of 100% recycled PVC cable protection pipes, totaling almost 2,000 kg of fossil-free material. All products supplied fully meet the EN standards and hold the Nordic Poly Mark certification, attesting to their quality.

Biovyn pipes at the building site of the Hope Preschool | Pipelife
Two installers laying down a Biovyn wastewater pipe | Pipelife

More Sustainable Solutions in Construction

The new preschool in Gothenburg was completed early this year and opened its doors in February 2022. As the installation of fossil-free PVC piping systems does not differ from conventional pipes in any way, there were no extra challenges or delays. In total, 82.4% of all pipes used in the project were fossil-free, which allowed reaching a 49.5% CO2 reduction.

The success of the Hoppet pilot opens the door for broader acceptance of fossil-free PVC piping systems and highlights their potential for upcoming sustainable construction projects in Gothenburg as well as in other municipalities.

“If we can change our consumers’ views on PVC and its outstanding material properties, we can deliver more 100% fossil-free pipes in the future,” asserts Ove Söderberg, Project Manager at Pipelife Sweden.

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