According to the International Energy Association (IEA), the buildings sector was responsible for approximately one-third of global energy and process-related CO2 emissions by 2021.
Specifically, 6% of these emissions were due to the production of cement, steel and aluminum used for construction; 8% through the use of fossil fuels; and 19% from the generation of electricity and heat needed to maintain them.
This makes one thing clear: more attention must be paid to making our buildings greener and more sustainable.
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Fortunately, 2023 will be the year in which we will take some important steps towards this goal.
“The construction industry has not received nearly the attention it deserves given the havoc it is wreaking on the environment.” Talia Rafaelipartner up COMPASSa Copenhagen-based early-stage VC firm, TNW told me.
“Next year, I think the faster we provide funding to scale up sustainable technologies for the built environment, the faster we achieve economies of scale that will enable widespread adoption,” she added.
Rafaeli specified that investments should focus on the following: lower-emission concrete, green steel, refrigeration technologies to improve HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems and heat pumps.
From an optimistic point of view, we already see European companies developing projects in the field of low-emission concrete and the production of green steel.
Still, there is a lot to do with pre-existing buildings. Dr. Aidan Bell, co-founder of UK-based EnviroBuild states that this is an “important” step that should start with making sure a home is properly insulated. “Insulation of roof and cavity walls [in particular is] very cost effective,” Bell told TNW.
There are also additional technologies for those who have already done the basics, he added, telling us Airex a kind of smart air stone that reduces heat loss.
Bell foresees two more trends that will pick up in 2023: installing more solar panels on roofs and the use of smart meters, which will enable ‘better awareness of electricity peaks and troughs’. Even simple steps, such as running machines at night, can help lower peak demand on the national power grid, he noted.
One way to stimulate this balance of energy consumption is flexibility services. Chantel Scheepers — Director of Oak Tree Power – thinks these are likely to go mainstream by 2023. The purpose of these schemes is to provide consumers with financial compensation for consuming less energy during peak hours, she told TNW.
Scheepers noted that they are gaining popularity in cities like London, where they are being adopted by multinationals, such as the Financial Times and Pinsent Masons, showing their “enormous potential” for optimizing energy use.
Ultimately, making our buildings more sustainable won’t just happen in 2023, but every little action we take is crucial in the long run – and there’s no better time than now to start.