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Building Green with Cork

The cork industry in Portugal is of strategic importance, as the country is the world’s leading producer and processor of cork. Around 37% of the world’s cork production is processed in Portugal, and a large part of this processing is carried out by small companies. This sector plays a significant role in the Portuguese economy, with cork exports accounting for almost 3% of the country’s total exports.

Due to its characteristics, cork is ideal for use in a variety of applications, many of which are already well-known, such as stoppers for glass bottles. More recently, it has been gaining popularity in construction in Portugal, not only because of its sustainability, but also because of its unique characteristics.

Cork is a natural, 100% recyclable and biodegradable raw material, obtained from the bark of the cork oak tree, which survives without the need for herbicides, fertilizers or irrigation systems, and regenerates after its bark is removed. Cork has unique characteristics in terms of flexibility, elasticity and compression. Its extraordinary resilience, impermeability, lightness and insulating efficiency make it ideal for a variety of applications. No other natural or man-made material can reproduce its properties.

In the construction sector, it is a material with obvious advantages in terms of building quality, and can be used, mainly:

  1. As a thermal and acoustic insulator in walls, floors and ceilings,
  2. As a covering for façades, walls, floors, ceilings and roofs.

Some companies (portuguese and foreign) have invested in innovation and sustainability, exploring new applications, colors, textures and dimensions of cork – innovations that will allow for greater versatility in the use of cork itself, not only in construction, but also in various other areas.

The use of cork in construction not only contributes to reducing the environmental impact of buildings, but also promotes more sustainable practices throughout its life cycle, from production to end use. Specifically, its use contributes to:

  • Reducing the carbon footprint. Cork oak forests act as carbon sinks, absorbing CO2, one of the main greenhouse gases. By promoting the use of cork, the maintenance and growth of these forests is encouraged, which is beneficial for the environment.
  • Energy efficiency. Its application as insulation in buildings helps to reduce the need for heating and cooling, leading to a reduction in energy consumption. This energy efficiency is a key element in sustainable construction, reducing the ecological footprint of buildings.
  • Durability and Reduced Maintenance. Cork’s resistance to fire, impacts and the action of biological agents increases the durability of buildings, reducing the need for replacement or frequent maintenance. This contributes to waste reduction and lower resource consumption.
  • Sustainable life cycle. As a natural, renewable, biodegradable and recyclable product, cork fits perfectly into a sustainable life cycle. From its extraction to the end of the product’s useful life, cork has a reduced environmental impact.
  • Ecological and healthy construction. Cork is a natural material that does not emit toxic substances, contributing to a healthier, greener and more ecological construction environment.
  • Promoting Biodiversity. The conservation of cork oak forests, which are necessary for cork production, helps to preserve unique ecosystems and promote biodiversity.

The benefits are many and, in a world of growing environmental awareness, it is impossible to ignore the need to choose increasingly sustainable practices and materials such as cork. At Beelt, we want to be part of the solution and we support our customers in making more efficient choices.

Awareness of the benefits of cork has contributed to its popularity, will you be using it in your next project too?


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