Officine Maccaferri


Sustainable projects increase demand for synthetic and geosynthetic membranes


Eco-friendly geosynthetic solutions comply with LEED and AQUA-HQE certifications

Geosynthetic solutions are being used to replace asphalt alternatives. Owing to their sustainable nature, they are capable of protecting the soil into which they are placed, and channelling the contaminating materials to the correct disposal point.

The sustainability agenda is being enforced throughout the civil construction sector, seeking to minimize the environmental impacts caused by construction works. The AQUA-HQE  process is an international certification of sustainable construction that was developed by Démarche HQE (Haute Qualité Environnementale) and is applied in Brazil exclusively by the Vanzolini Foundation, and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). It was conceived and awarded by the non-governmental organization US Green Building Council (USGBC).

In summary, the AQUA-HQE process establishes the primary sustainable criteria for Brazilian construction. One of the effects of this practice is the use of more specific solutions for each type of demand. Some of these include synthetic and geosynthetic membranes that are used to replace the traditional asphalt based solutions. These geosynthetic products are made from elastic alloys capable of easily adapting to the substrate onto which they are installed. They are resistant to UV rays and chemical attacks, and guarantee tightness and soil protection.

In an interview with AECWEB, Maccaferri’s civil engineer and Technical Coordinator, Paulo Rocha, said that synthetic and geosynthetic membranes protect the soil and channel the contaminated flow directly to the correct disposal point. He added: “To get an idea of the efficiency of this solution, to cross 1 mm of the membrane, the water would take at least 3 thousand years. It is a watertight barrier, which prevents the contact of the material with soil or water table”.

Geotechnical membranes and environmental protection membranes are prefabricated using synthetic materials such as HDPE, PVC (Polivinyl Polychloride), TPO (Polyolefin Thermoplastic) or EDPM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer), among others.

Rocha explains that there are applications where asphalt emulsion is most advantageous and also cites examples including:

  • waterproofing foundations
  • suspended walls
  • walls that are connected to the ground.

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