Not all technologies involved in the challenge of climate change are as evident as eliminating fossil fuels or redesigning our transport systems, topics that we have discussed quite commonly on this page. The architecture, design and construction of buildings is another environment in which, according to data from the European Union, is involved around 40% of the energy consumed and 36% of carbon dioxide emissions.
35% of buildings in Europe are more than fifty years old and about 75% are inefficient from the energy point of view, with a very low renewal rate of between 0.4% and 1.2%, which means that it is perfectly possible that, in terms of individual and institutional investment, the adaptation of our homes and buildings through their isolation and appropriate modifications to turn them into energy efficient end up with a bill significantly higher than that related to transport. Posing the isolation of my house or carrying out works to improve its power generation capacity can, according to the level at which I set it, have a higher cost than the acquisition of a new vehicle, and have a later impact also more elevated in terms of savings.
The new construction project and construction is also trying to accommodate these demands. In Oslo, a consortium of architects, engineers, designers and experts in the environment develop technologies to turn buildings not only into energy efficient, but even, going beyond, into energetically positive, into net energy producers able to partially supply their environment. The idea is not only to be able to eliminate the carbon footprint of buildings, but even to pose them as a solution that helps alleviate the problem of climate change. With projects both new construction and rehabilitation of buildings, this consortium works to design the construction in such a way that it can accommodate large extensions of solar panels, accumulator batteries, etc. to the point of converting them into mini-power plants with a positive contribution of energy. The building of the illustration, Brattørkaia , is an eight-story office building capable of generating 485,000 kWh annually, of which the vast majority is returned to the grid (the average energy consumption of a home in cold Norway is in the 20,000 kWh, compared to about 9,922 kWh in Spain or 10,399 kWh in the United States ), generating significant savings and a reduction in generation needs.
The definition of the energy status of a building does not include the materials used in its construction, an element that also requires changes. The increasing use of recycled and manufactured materials in an environmentally friendly manner is, therefore, another important area, even more so considering that cement manufacturing itself contributes to 8% of carbon dioxide emissions, another variable that is essential to optimize for the fulfillment of the objectives. To the attempts of reduction in the use of cement in the construction in benefit of other materials more respectful and efficient, join changes in the technology of obtaining the cement itself and concrete, the most abundant human manufacturing material on earth, including innovation in materials that allow a progressive decarbonization of processes to obtain new types of cements of more efficient manufacturing.
In terms of compliance with the Paris agreements, architecture, construction and the cement industry undoubtedly have a very strong need for technological changes in their agenda.
This post was previously published on www.enriquedans.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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