Formulation of directives for the environmentally conscious choice of upgraded insulation and surface coatings for walls and floors, the basis for the awarding of the international eco-label natureplus

Content Description




Part A: motivation, matter, aims, methods, data

The matter and the aim of the project was to develop award guidelines for the international ecolabel natureplus (supported by the 1st proposal of the programme "Haus der Zukunft") relating to products for reconstruction purpose. The following product groups were regarded relevant for reconstruction:

  • Upgraded Insulation
  • Wall and Floor Coating systems


natureplus is an initiative for an international ecolabel for building products. This initiative is borne by the International Association for Sustainable Building and Living e.V. Members as manufacturers, traders, organisations for consumers and environmental affairs, planners, consulters and laboratories belong to this association. This structure linked to weighted voting right assures that none of the groups - no matter how numerous and well funded it is - can dominate the awarding of the label. The IBO (Austrian Institute for ecological and healthy building) is founder member of natureplus and delegated in the board and the criteria commission.

The award guidelines are subdivided into three hierarchies: The basic criterias (for all products), the award guidelines for product-groups and the award guidelines for a specific product. All award guidelines consider the three requirements of health, environmental and functional compatibility. The award guidelines are developed on the basis of scientific perception and data and in a prcess of discussion with the manufacturers, experts and are finally passed by the managing board.

Upgraded Insulation

The predominantly amount of thermal refurbishment of facades is carried out with upgraded Insulation based on expanded polystyrene (EPS) followed by systems with mineral wool. The market share of alternatives to the mentioned systems of upgraded Insulation is beyond 1 %. At the same time there have been promising developments in the last years as f.e. a mere mineral upgraded Insulation based on a mineral foam panel. Through developing award guidelines natureplus wants to support these tendencies of alternative insulation materials.

Wall and Floor Coating systems

The application of surface coatings on large areas can cause high concentrations of pollutants as volatile organic compounds indoors. As an alternative there are the so called ‘natural colours' which are made from renewable or sufficiently available raw materials with low risk potential. But also natural colours can contain substances which can cause sanitary or environmental problems. So to do without testing would also not be advisable in this scope.

Part B: Results and conclusion

First of all the products found on the market were assessed

  • if they would be compliant with the natureplus basic criteria,
  • concerning their relevance to the market and
  • if there is enough scientific perception for the development of award guidelines.

In doing so natureplus abstained from developing directives for the following products (at least for the time being):

  • Expanded polystyrene, emulsion paint, varnish, glaze, oil and wax based on synthetic resin: not compliant with the natureplus-requirement: ‘The amount of renewable or mineral raw materials including water has to be at least 85 percent.'
  • Mineral wool: not compliant with the natureplus-requirement: ‘Products with the following classification will not be awarded: ... products III! And III2 according to the German MAK-list', ‘minimisation command for environmental and sanitary impact' and ‘limitation of emissions to indoor air .... from dust and fibres'.
  • Reed panels: presently there are no approved Upgraded Insulation with reed panels on the market.
  • Glue-bound distemper: limited technical serviceability, no relevance to the market
  • Oil and wax based on renewable raw materials: need of research work concerning emission performance during utilisation

The following award guidelines are a result of the project:

  • RL 0100 Insulation material based on renewable raw materials
  • RL 0101 Insulation materials

natureplus wants to award as many products as possible with that award guidelines so that a range of environmentally sound products are available for refurbishment. The criteria of the natureplus ecolabel are very comprehensive and strict but still compliant with the market due to the developing-process with manufacturers. For the product assessments at issue natureplus expects a further step in direction of ecological product optimisation. The award guidelines or apart criteria can also be used for example for the technical descriptions of calls for tenders - independent of the fact whether there are natureplus-awarded products or not. natureplus is a dynamic project. The report on hand describes the stage of discussion at the date of writing (november 2003). You can find all current information like the award guidelines, the assessment methods, the awarded products on the homepage:

Project Partners

Project manager:

Mag. Hildegund Mötzl
Österreichisches Institut für Baubiologie und -ökologie GmbH (IBO)


  • Dipl. Biol. Michael Köhler, Bremer Umweltinstitut
  • Thomas Schmitz-Günther, natureplus
  • Holger Struwe, TÜV Süddeutschland Bau und Betrieb GmbH
  • Dr. Gerd Zwiener, eco-Umweltinstitut GmbH
  • Dr. Michael Fischer, IUG Institut für Umwelt und Gesundheit
  • Felix Meier, WWF Schweiz


Mag. Hildegund Mötzl
Österreichisches Institut für Baubiologie und -ökologie
Alserbachstr. 5/8
1090 Wien
Tel.: +43 1 3192005-32
Fax: +43 3192005-50