In light of the exhaustion of certain natural resources and the limited utilization of others, the building sector has to make a change in its procurement, prioritizing renewable materials or those from recycling streams. What are these resources? In what quantity and how are they utilized worldwide?

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Buches de bois


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4 Gm3/year (resinous trees, deciduous trees, and tropical timber).
Use: Half serves to produce energy (80% in emerging countries), the other half is used as lumber (packing, construction, carpentry) and industrial wood (panels, furnishings, and papermaking pulp).


Even if natural silica forms 28% of the earth’s crust, it is a critical material. It makes up three of the most important raw materials: sand, industrial silica, and diatomaceous earth.

Bouteilles de verre

Industrial silica:

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Production: 380 Mt/year worldwide (2022).
Use: 15% for glass manufacture (which contains over 65% of it), around 5% for foundry operations, 3% for mineral filler (paints, plastics, resins, etc.), 3% for construction products. Over half of the industrial silica in the United States is used for hydraulic fracturing and concreting hydrocarbon extraction wells. It also serves to produce metallurgical silicon (3.5 Mt/year) for electrometallurgy (electronic and photovoltaic components) and synthetic silica production, including silica fume (1.8 Mt/year worldwide) injected into high-performance concretes.

Clé de serrage et boulon


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Production: 1,6 Gt, of ore. 1,885 Gt of steel (2022).
Use: Iron and steel are primarily used in construction and for infrastructure (52%), followed by mechanical equipment (16%), automobiles (12%), and metal objects (10%). In the EU, 37% of the iron is used for construction. Worldwide, 50% of steel is destined for the building sector and transport infrastructure.

Fibres végétales


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Production: 128 Mt/year of bamboo (estimation), 26 Mt/an of hemp, flax, and cotton.
Use: Bamboo is used for construction (32%) and furnishings (33%). Hemp (245,000 t in 2021) serves as an additive or covering material. Flax (1 Mt in 2020) is used as insulation or a structuring element for panels. Cotton (25 Mt in 2022), primarily destined for the textile (60%), automobile, and furnishing (35%) industries, is also a component of insulation and construction materials.

Illustration de l'utilisation d'argiles kaoliniques


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Production :
Specialty clays* 17 Mt/year, kaolinitic clays25 Mt/year.
Use: Clay is used (raw) to manufacture sustainable insulating aggregates or concretes. It serves (once fired) to produce ceramics, concrete, bricks, paints, insulation, fiber glass.

* specialty clays: clays assigned to construction and more generally to processing for materials

Dunes de sables

Sand :

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Production: 50 Gt/year, dont 6 Gt/year of which is coastal and marine sand.
Use: for construction (2020), 2/3 of which is for concrete, and the rest for roads and backfilling.


Diatomaceous earth:

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Production: 2,5 Mt/year (2022)
Use: For filtration (50%), manufacturing cement (30%), mineral filler (paints, 15%), insulation, abrasive materials, absorbents (5%).



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Production : 150 Mt/year (2022)
Use: Gypsum serves to make plaster: gypsum board and primers (40%), specialty concretes (57%). There is a synthetic gypsum, desulfogypsum (139 Mt worldwide) obtained by the desulfurization of flue gas from burning coal. After processing, this gypsum is reconditioned into plaster.



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Production : 69 Mt/year of primary aluminum (2022) 37 Mt/year of recycled or secondary aluminum (2021).
Use:Due to its growing use in low-carbon technologies, aluminum is used in construction (25%), transport (23 %), electricity (12%), equipment (11%), sheets (9%), and packaging (8%).



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Production: 1,8 Mt/year of wool.
Use: Wool is used in construction (7 to 15%) for insulation and floor coverings and filtration (industry). Other animal fibers such as duck and goose feathers are appreciated for their extremely effective thermal performance.

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