The importance of improving internal air quality

Stand 47’s concept of efficiency and innovation extends to the philosophy of creating a high-quality product. This does not only relate to construction, but also to a high-quality living space thereafter. While the decision has been taken to use building materials and paints that have little or no release of VOCs into the air, it is impossible to control the habits of the future occupants. For example, we cannot control what cleaning materials they may use or the items of furniture they may buy one day that may in turn affect their health. For this reason, we hope to build awareness about what internal air quality (IAQ), why it is important, and how using Gyproc Activ’ Air plasterboard in Stand 47 will maintain a healthy internal air quality in spite of unpredictable future use.

What is internal air quality and why is it important?

Indoor air quality (IAQ) may be broadly defined as the state of air (clean or contaminated) that in turn affects the health and well-being of occupants. Poor IAQ affects health comfort and productivity (eg. through the aggravation of allergies and asthma) especially if we consider that 80% of our time is spent indoors.

There are two main types of indoor pollutants that compromise internal air quality 
   1. Inorganic Pollutants: CO2, particles
   2. The most important: Volatile Organic Compounds

The problem – why we need to be aware

One of the top five causes (see image above) of lost years of healthy life, is household air pollution. In SA for example, we have the 4th highest asthma death rate. There is mounting evidence that the common household cleaners and body-care products we buy from the supermarket are contributing to the dramatic increases in some of the above diseases.

Many of the common laundry, kitchen & bathroom cleaning products we use contain chemicals known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Things like phosphorous, chlorine, formaldehyde, bleach, etc. are regarded as VOCs and are definitely not ‘body-friendly’.

Formaldehyde* and other indoor pollutants are known carcinogens. In 2004, the World Health Organisation reclassified formaldehyde as a Group 1 chemical – from “probable” to a “known” carcinogen. In 2011, formaldehyde was reassigned as known to be a human carcinogen

Respiratory illness that are related to formaldehyde exposure

  • 50% of respiratory illnesses including asthma are aggrevated by poor indoor quality
  • Formaldehyde and other aldehydes pose a health threat for cancers and respiratory illnesses (act as irritants to the conjunctiva and respiratory tract)

*A gas that forms naturally in the upper atmosphere, and gets synthesized for industrial use. A dangerous form of aldehyde, and a known carcinogen.

Sources of voc

VOCs are found in cleaning solvents and materials, which when they become airborne, exacerbate illness. Mould and mildew are also VOCs that originate in water damaged buildings that remain wet for more than 72 hours and therefore contribute to poor health. Other everyday sources include:

  • Building products and furnishing 
  • Furniture, cabinets, shelving, 
  • Paints, adhesives & glues, 
  • Carpets, building materials…
  • Everyday use items 
  • Cleaning products, detergents, 
  • Air fresheners, 
  • Copiers, printers, 
  • Fuel-burning appliances such as gas stoves, 
  • New books & magazines, treated fabrics,…


For all the challenges and issues listed above, and the desire to deliver a high-quality end product, Stand 47 has chosen to use Saint-Gobain Gyproc’s Activ’ Air in the internal cladding and bedroom partition walls. Activ’Air is an innovative plasterboard that improves indoor air quality by permanently removing formaldehyde that is circulating indoors, and thereby improving air quality to ensure a healthy and comfortable home to live in. 

For more information visit or contact heidi olivier on 012 657 2800

12th site visit

Today’s site meeting marked five months into the construction process. The Gyproc Activ’ Air plasterboard is nearly completely installed along with Isover Glasswool Cavitybatt insulation material and Aerolite (aka think pink) in the ceilings, the door and window reveals have been clad with plasterboard, the internal walls and ceilings have begun to be treated with Rhinolite, some of the RhinoWood window frames have been installed, the stone wall is almost complete, and nearly all of the service conduits and pipes are in place. 

Activ’ air plasterboard


Stone wall

Acoustic isolation & thermal insulation materials

Rhinowood window frames



Saint-gobain awarded company of the year

Saint-Gobain via Gypsum Activity (Construction Products) recently received two awards at the Global Gypsum Awards Conference and Exhibition in Toronto Canada, on 21 October 2013, which attracts the gypsum industry’s main stakeholders from around the world each year. Saint-Gobain received the “Company of the Year” award, while Gyproc’s Activ’Air ceiling solution (which we are using on Stand 47 for it’s high quality air cleaning capabilities) was presented with the “Product of the Year” award. The winners were selected following an online vote by several hundred professionals on the organization’s website. 

Rhino modified wood frames


Profile comparison after 12 months.

The choice of window and door frames for Stand 47, was informed by two criteria, SANS regulations and durability. The new SANS regulations make the traditional option of steel or aluminium frames difficult because of performance and cost. The option to use PVC frames (with better performance) was investigated, but they did not suit the aesthetic or concept. While timber appealed to the project team there were concerns about using it in the Highveld, where the dry air, harsh sun and temperature differences strongly affect performance. Through further investigation however, a modified timber from RhinoWood was found, which delivers the high-quality performance of exotic hardwoods by treating sustainably sourced plantation timber. In collaborating with Rhinowood, we hope to demonstrate yet another options available in creating a high-quality home using state-of-the-art materials. 

What is rhino modified wood?

Rhino Modified Wood is the environmental, social and economical solution to the long-term future of wood and its application in our world. Diminishing rain forests means hard, exotic woods have become costly and limited in supply. Rhino Modified Wood blends real wood with the latest technology resulting in a durable wooden product with a variety of applications. It is real wood for people uncompromising on quality, but who care about the impact they have on the environment. By using Rhino Modified Wood you’re building tomorrow’s cities, while growing sustainable plantations and protecting the rain forests for future generations.

How does it work?

Rhino Modified Wood uses sustainably sourced wood from accredited plantation forests. Through a specialised treatment process (patent pending), it has dimensional stability and physical properties comparable to that of tropical hard wood. It is strong, durable and maintains its integrity even in the harshest of outdoor environments, with little maintenance or any harmful chemicals added. Having been tested and certified, the controlled treatment process guarantees durability and a stable wood composition that has applications ranging from simple decking to vast commercial structures. Zero-toxicity makes Rhino Modified Wood unique to other treatment processes. Being sourced from sustainable forests, this timber leaves plastics, steel and concrete in yesterday’s era.

A product tested to deliver

Test conducted: Durability against wood destroying fungi
Results: Durability class 1 – Very durable 

Test conducted: Wood exposed to light for 1000 hours

  • Slight greying in colour
  • No warping
  • No fading
  • No cupping
  • No Cracking

Test conducted: Wood exposed to light and moisture for 1000 hours

  • Slight greying in colour
  • No warping
  • No fading
  • No cupping
  • No Cracking

Test conducted: Wood exposed to light for 1000 hours
Normal pine =92
Rhino Modified Wood = 152
60% increase in strength

Test conducted: Thermal conductivity of Rhino Modified Wood
Results: Thermal conductivity = 0.173 W/(m·k)

Technical data:
1. Density = 950kg per m3
2. Moisture = 6 -8%
15 year guarantee against wood destroying organisms in use class 3 (Situations in which the wood or wood-based product is above ground and exposed to the weather (particularly rain).

For more information on this product contact scott sargent from rhino modified wood 
on 011 892 5306 or

Floor finishes

Some of the floors at Stand 47 have been screeded with Saint-Gobain Isover’s Politerm Blu, which is a thermal insulation mortar consisting of EPS beads which are treated with a chemical additive to enable the production of lightweight, thermal insulation mortars of various densities, with a K-value of 0.065 W/m.K to 0.1 W/m.K depending on density. 


Politerm Blu is non-flamable and considered to be an environmentally friendly product as it uses less material, less energy and produces less emissions, in addition to contributing nothing to global warming or the depletion of the ozone layer.


  • Easy to mix, place and finish
  • Cost effective
  • Homogenous bead distribution good workability, predictable performance
  • Mixed material can be pumped 100m horizontally & 30m vertically.
  • No loss of workability, even when pumped long distances
  • Mix design variable to produce densities from 200 to 1 000 kg/m3
  • Compatible with most finishing products and adhesives

For more information contact saint-gobain’s isover team on 012 657 2800 or visit

Site progress – services & finishes

During the past few weeks, a number of new construction processes have begun. Plumbing and electrical conduits have been installed within the light steel walls and ceiling soffits of the ETICS wall systems within the service areas, positioned and held in place by timber panels. The ETICS walls have been insulated with Isover insulation and clad internally with the Saint-Gobain Rhino-Lite ceiling being insulated with Pink Aerolite. Internally, the concrete floor slab is being tiled. The stone wall is almost complete with a few areas around the service wing yet to be clad and the ETICS walls have almost all been finished with a reinforcing cement base-coat.

Installing services

Internal living area insulation, interior wall panels & ceiling boards

 tiling the floors

 exterior walls – stone cladding & etics system

Stand 47 at the green building convention

Stand 47 was recently showcased at the recent Green Building Convention held in Cape Town during October 2014 at the Saint-Gobain stand. The Stand 47 case study project was shown to the public with particular emphasis being placed on the green aspects of the Saint-Gobain materials and technologies being used, as well as the high quality and efficiency of the Stand 47 building technologies. As part of the larger concept of the conference which was to “rewire”, Stand 47 showed that not only does Saint-Gobain build differently, they also think differently.

Stand 47’s architects awarded

Thomashoff + Partner Architects were recently awarded an Award of Merit and an Award of Excellence from the Pretoria Institute for Architecture for House Rooke on Monaghan Farm. These peer-reviewed awards are the highest which can be received from a regional architectural institute. House Rooke is situated on a stand next to Stand 47 and was inspired by the late Modern Movement architecture in the Pretoria region and adapted to contemporary times and the immediate veld setting.

Congratulations to Stand 47’s architectural team.

A symbiosis of materials – light steel & heavy stone

There are a number of scenarios that usually play out in the construction of a new high-end home. From the various construction technologies and material options out there, either of two distinct technologies are usually chosen: a typical masonry or concrete structure, or an alternative such as the light steel construction option. 

Instead of choosing either of these two options exclusively, Stand 47 uses a hybrid so as to enhance their best qualities and utilise their full potential. The use of stone clad masonry and light steel is the result of a carefully considered mixture of two distinct technologies and materials. The importance and permanence of stone clad masonry as the heavier material relates directly to the natural and tactile qualities of the landscape, and is used for retaining walls (mediating the site and the farm beyond) as well as offering structural support to the home by anchoring parts of the structure to the site. In contrast, the light steel frame structure and cladding speaks to a more flexible structure, one which can adapt slowly to the future needs of its inhabitants and which seems to rest respectfully and discreetly within this majestic setting. 

This symbiosis of materials and technologies demonstrates that the construction techniques need not be exclusive nor compete with each other. Rather, when used to their full potential together, they can supplement each other’s positive qualities and jointly create a well-balanced state-of-the-art construction that feels like a home and also embodies the best of contemporary design, technology and construction.