As it is World Green Building Week, I would like to celebrate with you the overlooked heroes that can help us win the fight against climate change while making our life more comfortable: The buildings we live in.
Why should we even care about buildings?
Buildings have a huge impact on people, on our planet and on the economy.
We spend up to 90% of our time inside buildings and that means they strongly influence our health and wellbeing. Indoor air quality, acoustics, daylight, temperature…these are some of the parameters that influence the way you learn, play, work, and sleep.
Buildings are also responsible for nearly 1/4 of the global carbon emissions leading to climate change and this figure could rise to 50% by 2050 if we don’t do anything. The good news is that the solutions already exist to drastically reduce this impact…they just need to be implemented.
Finally, the construction industry is one of the world economy’s largest sectors, with $10 trillion spent on construction-related goods and services every year. It also employs about 7 percent of the world’s working-age population.
So what is a Sustainable Building?
A sustainable building is a building that takes into account People, Planet and Prosperity across all the stages of its life cycle: from raw material extraction, to construction, use and even demolition.
The European Commission developed recently the Level(s) initiative, defining the priorities for sustainable buildings:
- Greenhouse gas emissions throughout the building’s life cycle
- Resource efficient and circular material life cycles
- Efficient use of water resources
- Healthy and comfortable spaces
- Adaptation and resilience to climate change
- Life cycle cost and value
How do we build more of those sustainable buildings?
The market for green buildings is growing. A recent study shows that in the Nordics, the share of certified green buildings is expected to double for new construction (from a bit less than 25% today to more than 50% in 5 to 10 years) and even more for existing buildings (from around 5% today to more than 20% in 5 to ten years).
The question is: how do we sustain this growth to ensure that sustainable buildings are becoming mainstream?
Firstly, more collaboration across the value chain is needed. If we want to build more sustainable buildings we have to change the way we work and start new partnerships across the value chain. End-users, investors, architects, contractors, construction product manufacturers, all can bring input and knowledge to the table.
This is why Saint-Gobain is strongly involved with the Green Building Councils (GBCs)across the world. We are member of more than 35 countries worldwide and in the Nordic and Baltic region we participate in all seven countries and are board member in Sweden, Denmark and Latvia.
National GBCs and the WorldGBC have made an amazing job in creating forums for discussion across the building value chain. This World Green Building Week is just one of many example of how to create momentum and discussion around sustainable construction.
Locally, innovative projects emerge and actors unite to work on solutions for the future. The REBUS (Renovating Buildings Sustainably) project is a partnership representing the entire value and knowledge chain of the building sector in Denmark. The work is aimed at social housing buildings and targets are to reduce energy consumption in the existing building stock by minimum 50%, achieve reduction in resource usage by 30%, and increase productivity 20% by industrializing building renovations, and at the same time ensure a good and healthy life inside the buildings.
At Saint-Gobain we are willing to play our part in the transition towards more sustainable buildings and the circular economy. Our mission is to enhance the wellbeing of people everywhere, by combining:
• Comfort, which answers today’s individual needs &
• Sustainability that addresses tomorrow’s collective challenges
We develop solutions that contribute to green buildings, such as LEED, BREEAM, HQEor DGNB certified buildings to only name a few. Our ISOVER glasswool is made of up to 80% recycled glass. Our Gyproc Activ’Air plasterboards decompose Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) to enhance indoor climate. Our Weber Nordic floors have been redesigned leading to a CO2 footprint reduction of up to 36%. Our Ecophon solutions contribute to better acoustics environments in schools, hospitals and offices. Our SageGlassdynamic glass improves visual comfort for occupants while reducing energy consumption.
As data sharing is key in the transition towards more sustainable buildings, we provide transparent information about the environmental impact of our solutions. Our Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are third party verified and available for our customers willing to calculate the impact of their buildings.
Finally we are working on designing more sustainable products. The Saint-Gobain Eco-Innovation approach aims at bringing differentiating value to our customers by developing innovative solutions that are having a better impact on People and Planet. More than 600 people have already been trained worldwide and are ready to co-develop the solutions of tomorrow.
To conclude, it’s up to us to make the buildings around us a solution rather than problem in the fight against climate change. For this World Green Building Week 2017, get involved and learn, share and lead the way!