ArgumentNo. 6/2014

Sustainable environment

Abstract

With the knowledge that buildings consume 40% of all energy, and fossil fuels run out, many efforts have been undertaken to improve the sustainability of buildings in the past ten years. European regulations on energy efficiency in buildings have been imposed on all member states. Despite all good intentions the transition towards a more sustainably built future progresses only slowly, too slow for the future challenge we are facing. The building chain is traditional: Why change? We have always built like this! Constructors, investors, architects see no need to change. Most of the stakeholders in the building process only see the extra time and money needed for a more integrated planning process. None of them expect any return on their investments from future energy savings. The big step towards sustainability needs to be taken by the industry, the manufacturers of building materials, components and systems. In this industry the transition currently goes full speed. Manufacturers of the future will not just sell products but they will need to offer performance and service as well. Established companies that were used to produce square meters and cubic meters material need to make the shift towards more dedicated high performance products. They need to become the knowledge leaders in energy efficient sustainable building that offer consultancy and training and cooperate with universities on research. Just because they are the ones with the budgets right now.

The article will describe the challenges manufacturers now have to overcome to be ready for a sustainable future. This implies cooperation between previous competitors, finding optimal energy solutions, cleaning the production process and providing the market with information on the sustainability of their products and production. The techniques are available, but this big monster called the building industry needs to take a full turn.

Download