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Sustainability on the agenda in masonry training

Sustainability on the agenda in masonry training

The need to be green is becoming a bigger and bigger part of masonry training courses. Against this backdrop, this subject was also on the agenda when specialist teachers and trainers gathered for a seminar this past summer. The event was also a chance for them to hear more about Alfix – but how is Alfix interesting in this context?

Development making masonry more appealing as a profession
With a tile adhesive being central to any tiler’s work, the availability (since the spring) of a reduced CO2 and Nordic Swan label (Alfix ProFix Plus) is most certainly of relevance to teachers and trainers in the field, as well as masonry apprentices; familiarity with the product and including it in the training thus make sense too. Pia Skjøtt-Larsen, a training consultant from ‘Byggeriets Uddannelser’, the Advisory Board for Education and Training for the Building and Construction Industry, is happy to see this development: “When suppliers create something sustainable, it piques our interest. We’re always happy when things go that way.”

In today’s masonry training, the topic of sustainability is covered as part of ‘construction and working environment’, but in future it is going to be a separate subject. “Focusing on making all aspects of professional masonry ‘green’ will help to make the training more appealing, attracting a greater variety of people to the profession. We are working towards more diversity and sustainability in the profession, and those two things go together,” Pia tells us.

Inspiration from Alfix’s side
Which specific initiatives make the biggest difference to the green transition? What materials and systems are most sustainable? How do we approach the documentation and new climate requirements? The answers to these types of questions can provide some inspiration - and in fact some answers were given by Mikael B. Noe, technical project manager at Alfix, during this summer’s seminar. Read on for a selection of them:

Which specific initiatives make the biggest difference?
“Product development, including selection of raw materials, is a considerable focus, because production of raw materials accounts for the vast majority of Alfix’s CO2 footprint. Typically this falls into three groups of raw materials: aggregate, cement and additives. If we take aggregate as our example, there are three areas that make a difference: 1) replacement of aggregate with light fillers to some degree, 2) the energy used to produce light fillers and 3) sourcing of additives locally,” Mikael B. Noe tells us.

When, for example, Alfix is selecting additives for a product, there will be a focus on getting a certain quality that will mean low CO2 emissions. As Mikael points out: “CO2 emissions are an important part of sustainability with regard to environment, but other conditions also have a major part to play, i.e. characteristics of the three pillars of ESG, i.e. environmental, social, and corporate governance, which have to be taken into consideration in sustainability. Ensuring high quality and thereby achieving sustainability and less damage/fewer complaints makes sense for the environmental agenda, but also makes sense financially for the party in question. At the end of the day, improving the working environment is always something we bear in mind when we are developing new Alfix products. This might mean simplifying processing, a greater spreading capacity per kg in the bag and therefore fewer kg in the bag to be hauled around... might also mean reducing dust. Increased spreading capacity and dust reduction are two advantages of our new ProFix Plus tile adhesive.”

How do we approach the new climate requirements?
New climate requirements are going to come into force in building regs from January 2023. This means that climate calculations will have to be produced, in the form of LCA (life cycle analysis) calculations, for new building work. As the industry readies itself for this, one of the things we here at Alfix are focused on is improving our knowledge of how the new requirements will affect masons. What, therefore, does the mason need to be aware of and put into practice?

We have broken the new requirements for reduced CO2 emissions from new construction down and concluded that the most important role of the mason to begin with, from 2023 onwards, will be to pass on EPDs (environmental product declarations) for the products used in work, together with information about quantities. The EPDs form the basis for LCA calculations, and the EPDs that accompany the products provide the most precise calculation (although industry-specific data can also be used). As a supplier, Alfix has the important task not only of making sure that the products have an EPD, but also of making it readily available (e.g. from the Byggebasen database or the Alfix website).

Meet one of the Alfix team

Meet one of the Alfix team

Here you have the chance to get to know more about production’s ‘wet’ department and Torben, who, together with Freddy and Mikkel, manages products such as sealing membranes, primers and façade paint. Their work is a balancing act, juggling buckets, lids and trays, and often involves juggling as a team: “If we are struggling with something in the 'wet’ department, we pull together and resolve the matter,” Torben declares.

Tell us a bit about you, your department and your own work
My name is Torben Hansen, I work in what we call the ‘wet’ department at Alfix, and have done so for four years now. It’s known as the ‘wet’ department because we produce the ‘wet’ goods - the 1K and 2K sealing membranes, the sealing primers, paint, FlexBinder etc.

I originally received general warehouse training back in the 80s, have built freezers and also worked a number of years in the food industry. I have also had a side job, working as a companion to people with special needs, for several years.

What are your tasks, specifically?
In day-to-day operations, my job is to mix 1K and 2K sealing membranes, i.e. weigh out specific quantities of various products and add them in the correct order, following a recipe issued by the laboratory, in our mixer.

Our working day is reasonably varied in terms of the tasks we have, which suits me just fine. If a rush order ever comes in and changes plans, as it occasionally does, we can soon rearrange things and adjust production to what is needed.

The kind of wet goods that are most challenging to produce are also the most exciting, façade paint being one such example; this requires our grey cells to work a bit harder. Production of this usually runs across a number of days, which is challenging but always exciting to experience.

What makes for a particularly good day at work?
All in all I’m happy in my work at Alfix; I have nice colleagues; there’s also a good canteen, we mustn’t forget, and a camaraderie which, in my opinion, helps to lift team spirits.

If we are struggling with something in the 'wet’ department, we pull together and resolve the matter.

Why is Alfix on the ‘Børsen Sustainable Case'

Why is Alfix on the ‘Børsen Sustainable Case'

In June 2022, ‘Børsen Bæredygtig’ in Denmark presented its ‘Børsen Sustainable Cases’, highlighting 50 innovative and green projects currently underway in Danish industry. Alfix’s case has been summed up with a header which translates from the Danish as: ‘Alfix reduces its tile adhesive carbon footprint’. The point of the exercise and Alfix’s own ‘Case’ is to replicate the company’s bestselling product, but in a version with reduced CO2.

This has led to the company launching the Alfix ProFix Plus tile adhesive, an upgraded version with a CO2 footprint 27 percent less than the standard Alfix ProFix.

Raw material scrutiny under a green magnifying glass
Production of raw materials and all related transport accounts for more than 98 percent of the entire impact of CO2 from construction chemical products. As this is also how it works generally at Alfix, it makes sense, as well as being necessary, for us as a company to focus on the carbon footprint of raw materials and take sustainability work in our sector seriously.

The process of creating the new, reduced-CO2 product saw us rethinking the composition of raw materials so that we would use raw materials with the least impact on the climate as possible. In other words, materials such as reduced CO2 cement, synthetic material made from bio-based polymer and light fillers that were created by nature from extinct European volcanoes. The natural light filler also helps to ensure a good spreading capacity.

The product’s improved consumption of resources, meanwhile, is supported by a new type of bag packaging based on FSC-certified paper and an internal plastic film made from 100% recycled plastic. Dust reduction has also been achieved here by using a completely new technology that cuts consumption of the otherwise commonly used oil by more than 90%. The product’s Nordic Swan label and Emicode EC1 Plus are documented evidence that it has a minimal impact on the indoor environment in homes.

Being a ‘green gazelle’ a source of pride
Every year ‘Børsen’ in Denmark honours the gazelle companies that are driving growth and innovation. One of the ideas behind the ‘Børsen Bæredygtige Cases’ (sustainability cases) is to honour the many green initiatives taking place across different industries on exactly the same basis.

Fifty cases have been selected by the Børsen Bæredygtig editorial team in close consultation with analysis agency Wilke and an advisory board of sustainability specialists from the business community. The initiative is intended to contribute to the change in culture which, according to those taking the initiative, is expected to define the degree of sustainability.

Here at Alfix, we are proud and also grateful to have been chosen as one of the first ‘green gazelles’. This is helping to make 2022 a year to be proud of, all in all. After all, this year has also seen Alfix being nominated for ‘Company of the Year’ by Business Kolding (click here for why), for the Danish Building Industry’s Climate Award and ‘Danish Construction Centres’ (Danske Byggecentre) Environmental Award, the latter of which we won.

Alfix nominated for Børsen Sustainable Cases 2022

Alfix nominated for Børsen Sustainable Cases 2022

In recognition of its development of a low-carbon tile adhesive, Alfix is one of the 50 companies that the leading Danish commercial newspaper Børsen has nominated for its Børsen Sustainable Cases initiative in June 2022.

Børsen Sustainable Cases is a new initiative whose purpose is to highlight great examples of tangible, scalable green projects that Danish companies are working on. The intention is to provide inspiration at the same time as acknowledging the 50 selected projects. Børsen is the leading commercial newspaper in Denmark.

Tile adhesive helps combat climate change
Alfix has been nominated in the “Combating climate change” category for developing a new tile adhesive – Alfix ProFix Plus – whose climate footprint is 27 percent lower than that of the standard Alfix ProFix product. The perspective – and the expectation – is that the new adhesive will take over as Alfix’s best-selling product.

The new, low-carbon tile adhesive, Alfix ProFix Plus, is ideal for environmentally certified constructions projects such as Swan-labelled construction and DGNB projects. The product is also the first Swan-labelled tile adhesive in Denmark.

It is the composition of raw materials that has played the key role in making it possible to cut the climate impact of the tile adhesive. The extraction, refinement and transport of the raw materials actually account for more than 98 percent of the total carbon impact from Alfix, and the new ingredients include low-carbon cement and a naturally produced light filler.

In recognition of green initiatives across various sectors
The 50 cases have been selected by the Børsen Sustainable editorial team in close consultation with the Wilke analysis agency and an advisory board of sustainability specialists from the business community. The idea behind the initiative is, inter alia, to recognise the numerous green initiatives being introduced in the business community – in the same way as Børsen annually acknowledges the gazelle companies that are powering growth and innovation. The initiative is intended to contribute to the cultural change which, at the end of the day, is expected to define the degree of sustainability.

Here at Alfix, we are delighted and grateful to have been named one of the Børsen Sustainable Cases in 2022.
The recognition is significant, particularly as it comes in the wake of Alfix winning the 2022 Building Industry Environmental Award in May, for the company’s ambitious work in the field of the environment and OHAS. This provides a platform for the company to reach even further and provide inspiration with sustainable systems for the construction sector – not just in the construction industry itself, but more broadly within the business community.

Find out more about Alfix’s work with sustainability: CSR (

Meet an ‘Alfixer’ - Mikael Noe, technical project manager of the technical department

Meet an ‘Alfixer’ - Mikael Noe, technical project manager of the technical department

Tell us a bit about you, your department and your own work:
I am a qualified mason and building designer. I joined Alfix in 2013. When I’m not working, all of my awake time is spent climbing, travelling, running, doing sport with others and with my family.

There are three of us employees in the technical department, with an office at the factory in Kolding. We work closely together internally, but all have our own areas of responsibility. The tasks we do at work are somewhat varied, ranging from generic day-to-day tasks such as writing guidelines for a specific project, giving and receiving training in relation to use of a certain product, training on building regs and the regulatory framework around these, plus the guidelines underlying the work that has to be carried out in wet rooms and on facades and so on.

Another part of my working day, and an important one at that, is inspecting damage to buildings. It is important for us to gain an understanding of when and why damage happens; this is so that we can help the customer, but also so that we can develop sustainable products that can withstand the level of utilisation where they are integrated. Once we understand the reason for the damage, it also becomes easier to create helpful technical guidelines and ultimately give customers peace of mind. The tasks are pretty interesting, all in all.

What are your tasks, specifically?
There are so many. One of them might be to inspect damage. Typically the task will arrive on my desk from one of our own sales consultants or from a tradesman who has contacted us directly. In the first instance we always try to get an overview of the extent and nature of the damage, through images and calls. We can often provide support over the phone directly, based solely on the images of the damage we have seen and what we have been told.

In other situations, I would need to go to the construction site and see it for myself to get an idea. We often take samples away for more detailed analysis to get to the bottom of the damage and understand and explain why it happened. Typically I would then create an ‘inspection report’, in which I provide an account of the cause of the damage. It’s not a given that we will able to draw a firm conclusion on the cause, but we can highlight the most likely cause using our many years of experience.

We have also just finished a round of Alfix Pro Club network meetings across Denmark. Pro Club consists of a number of themed days aimed at professional masons,which cover a certain topical area. Typically I would be responsible for the technical content at these events. We have to plan everything in the months leading up to this, but luckily as a team we are good at getting all that done – covering sales, marketing and technical department tasks, among other things. It’s an intense, exciting time when that is going on.

What makes for a particularly good day at work?
When I can see that we are making a real difference, that’s a really good day at work for me. On a smaller scale, it’s when we help the mason to avoid damage and when they feel they get some enjoyment out of using our products. On a bigger scale, it’s when we manage to move construction in a more responsible and sustainable direction, and overall help to create more peace of mind around our solutions.

We work well together here in the technical department, which helps to create a nice working environment.

First-ever three-time ‘Skills’ champion of Denmark is a tiler

First-ever three-time ‘Skills’ champion of Denmark is a tiler

A three-time Denmark champion has been crowned for the first time in Skills Denmark’s history - tiler Kenny Bech Bruun - who now becomes the bearer of the impressive title. “A strong candidate in an incredibly strong field,” were the words of national trainer Lars Schmidt, in reference to the competition. What did the newly crowned Danish champion have to say for himself though?

Speaking in his Jutland accent about winning three times, 22-year-old Kenny Bech Bruun had the following to say: “It’s not a big deal.

Even though I’ve won three times, in my mind it was never about winning. I always think that things can be improved and am never totally satisfied”, Kenny Bech Bruun says, reflecting on his achievements. He sets high standards for himself and the quality that he delivers. Although, like many masons, he does piecework day to day, his stance on working in this way is clear: it should not mean poorer quality. “It is better to do it right the first time,” he says.

After all, the reason Kenny Bech Bruun is critical of himself is it helps with his own self-improvement. This is also something that he benefits from by taking part in Skills. “You always learn a lot by taking part in the competitions, and being more critical of yourself makes you improve,” he continues.

It is good craftsmanship, rather than winning, that drives him. “For me, Skills is first and foremost about getting a good result and having a good time with my competitors. We know each other well and work together well during Skills. It can all boil down to one single millimetre and above all whoever crafts the best piece of work on those days,” Kenny modestly states; who gained his ‘svendebrev’ journeyman’s qualification in September 2021 and now works at Axel Poulsen in Vejen day to day – usually on the bathrooms and stairwells for new builds.

A big fan of Alfix ProFix tile adhesive
Kenny Bech Bruun uses Alfix products in his work, both in competitions and his everyday work. But what’s his favourite product, we must ask? “I really like Alfix ProFix; it’s the one I’ve been using the longest. I use Alfix ProFix for everything – both floors and walls,” Kenny tells us.

International competition coming up
Next stop for Kenny Bech Bruun is the unofficial European Championships for tilers, which he is currently in training for, alongside this year’s second-placer, Kristian Bak Hansen. They will both head to Ausburg in Germany in July for the competition.

Kenny Bech Bruun had also qualified for the World Championships, which were due to be held in Shanghai in October 2022, but which unfortunately have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation in China. The advertisers behind the championships are considering alternative locations, with their decision set to be announced by the end of June.

As the proud main sponsor of the tiling profession at Skills, we here at Alfix would like to say a big congratulations and good luck with the competition going forward!

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