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As part of the 10th annual World Green Building Week, the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has issued a bold new vision for how buildings and infrastructure around the world can reach 40% less embodied carbon emissions by 2030, and achieve 100% net zero emissions buildings by 2050.

Together, building and construction are responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions in the world , with operational emissions (from energy used to heat, cool and light buildings) ac-counting for 28%. The remaining 11% comes from embodied carbon emissions, or ‘upfront’ carbon that is associated with materials and construction processes throughout the whole building lifecycle. WorldGBC’s vision to fully decarbonise the sector requires eliminating both operational and embodied carbon emissions.

The ‘Bringing embodied carbon upfront’ report proposes this ambitious goal alongside solutions to accelerate immediate action by the entire building and construction value chain. The vision is endorsed by representatives from developers and construction companies, financial institutions, city networks and government, as well as industry representatives from concrete, steel and timber and many more including: HeidelbergCement, Skanska, Stora Enso, Google and the Finnish Government.

The report sets out to demystify the challenge of addressing embodied carbon emissions, through breaking down complex terminology and creating a common language to set a con-sensus-built definition for net zero embodied carbon.

Embodied carbon emissions have been overlooked in the past but as shown by milestone research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), achieving drastic cuts in all carbon emissions over the next decade is critical to keeping global temperature rise to 1.5oC. Addressing upfront carbon is therefore crucial to fighting the climate crisis, as new construction is expected to double the worlds building stock by 2060 causing an increase in the carbon emissions occurring right now. Therefore, the new report is calling for coordinated action from across the sector to dramatically change the way buildings are de-signed, built, used and deconstructed.

WGBC-2WorldGBC presents a clear pathway of actions that designers, investors, manufacturers, government, NGOs and researchers across the whole value chain can take to accelerate decarbonisation, address current market barriers and, develop low carbon alternative solutions for market. However, the report warns that change will not happen unless there is a radical shift in how industry works together to enable a market transformation.

The transition towards mainstream net zero carbon standards requires immediate action to achieve greater awareness, innovation, improved processes to calculate, track and report embodied carbon, voluntary reduction targets from industry and roll out of new legislation at city, national and regional level. Approaches such as maximising the use of existing assets, promoting renovation instead of demolition and seeking new circular business models that reduce reliance on carbon intensive raw materials are also needed. To kick-start cross-sector collaboration, WorldGBC is calling for new national and sectoral roadmaps to be developed, such as those produced in Finland, Norway and Sweden, with strong support from industry and policymakers.

Demonstrating the feasibility of achieving zero carbon goals, the report is supported by case studies of existing best practice across the whole breadth of the building industry.

Businesses involved in design and delivery have already committed to ambitious individual or national decarbonisation strategies. For example, Skanska, a major development and construction group is making strides in enabling projects to be evaluated for full lifecycle impacts.

Materials suppliers are also taking a leading role. HeidelbergCement has committed to developing carbon neutral products by 2050, and Dalmia Bharat Cement, one of India’s leading cement manufacturers, is committed to becoming a carbon negative group by 2040.

Cities have also been instrumental in pushing for new innovations and approaches. Oslo, Norway, has a commitment to fossil free construction sites. Vancouver, Canada, has mandated that embodied carbon be reduced in new buildings by 40% by 2030, as part of its climate emergency response, demonstrating the type of regulatory frameworks that can drive market change.

The report has been generously supported by the European Climate Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. It was delivered in partnership with World Green Building Council’s technical partner Ramboll, and delivery partner C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

Source: World Green Building Council (WorldGBC)

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Today, 75% of Europeans live in urban areas and this is expected to rise. Already we are facing an increasing amount of challenges in our cities related to poor air quality, energy poverty, and highly inefficient buildings. The building stock accounts for 49% of Europe’s energy demand and 36% of CO2 emissions at EU level – we need to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and invest significantly in improving the energy efficiency of our buildings if Europe is to become carbon-neutral.

Against this backdrop, SolarPower Europe has launched the Solar4Buildings campaign –calling for solar on all new and renovated buildings in the EU to help limit climate change.

In the EU, more than 90% of roofs go unused, when they could help mitigate climate change by having solar installed on them. Installing solar on all new buildings and those undergoing renovations makes perfect sense as it could reduce buildings’ CO2 emissions significantly whilst producing clean electricity.

What’s more, Europe’s rooftops have huge solar potential. According to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, rooftops in the EU can produce 680 TWh of solar power annually – which is equal to one quarter of the current electricity consumption in the EU.

Solar is one of the most affordable energy sources today. The price of solar panels has dropped by more than 96% since 2000 and is expected to fall even further. By installing solar, European households can also save money on their electricity bills and have access to reliable and clean energy – that makes for a greener future. In Germany, a typical four-person family household with an average annual electricity consumption of 3,600 kWh could save more than €500 each year, if equipped with an average size rooftop system.

Despite these facts, buildings are still regularly being constructed without solar. Now it is time to install solar on all these roofs – on residential, commercial, industrial and public buildings.

SolarPower Europe will present the Solar4Buildings campaign to the new European Commission starting in November and as part of its input to President-elect Ursula von der Leyen’s ‘Green Deal’.

Help support the campaign by signing the petition calling for EU legislation to have solar on all new and renovated buildings in the European Union!

Source: SolarPower Europe

Siemens Finland has created a new business to expand its virtual power plant activity: Vibeco (Virtual Buildings Ecosystem) is an innovative approach to increase the benefits of increasingly decentralized energy systems. The heart of the virtual power plant is a software platform, operated by Siemens, that intelligently balances electrical loads from buildings that have been connected in a microgrid,
incorporating renewable energy and energy storage.

The new virtual power plant (VPP) service platform – a digitized demand-response system – makes it possible for the first time to combine the small electrical loads of buildings or industrial sites, so that building operators can sell energy back to the reserve market, with the ultimate goal to increase the flexibility of the electricity market as a whole.

We are shaping a new market at the grid edge with this technology,” explained Cedrik Neike, Chief Executive Officer Siemens Smart Infrastructure. “Together with the State of Finland, we are pioneering a model for decentralized energy systems to benefit utilities, business and society. The complexity of balancing loads across buildings, the grid and even with eMobility infrastructure requires deep domain expertise in the demand and supply areas.

The VPP service helps balance power consumption, to decrease the need for reserve power and, consequently, cutting carbon dioxide emissions. The Finnish national grid operator, Fingrid, compensates property owners when the VPP feeds energy into the public grid. Finland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is providing a grant of 8.4 million euros for the required technology investments.

Siemens already has two pilot customers for its VPP approach: Finnish Railways will connect the iconic Helsinki Central Station as well as two train depots in a microgrid to create a virtual power plant.

Renewable energy is challenging the entire energy system. We want to prepare for these changes now,” says Juha Antti Juutinen, Director of Real Estate at Finnish Railways.

Lappeenranta, a city of 75,000 inhabitants close to the Russian border, will kick off with nine public buildings, scaling up to connect 50 more buildings to a city microgrid.

The virtual power plant service decreases the environmental impact of the city and provides additional income,” says Markku Mäki-Hokkonen, development manager of the City of Lappeenranta.

Siemens’ VPP platform leverages the company’s successful energy optimization project at Sello shopping mall, a property of 100.000 m2 space located in the suburbs of Helsinki. Sello’s microgrid combines energy efficiency, storage, optimization of peak loads, and its own electricity production. In addition, supplying extra energy to the reserve market has led to annual income of around 650,000 euros annually for the Sello property owners.

Source: Siemens

Buildings account for about a third of total final energy consumption and energy-related emissions globally. They also have very long lifetimes that can impact energy and emissions for decades. But while they are often overlooked, they must play a critical role in the energy transitions. A recent report from the IEA, “Perspectives for the Clean Energy Transitions: The critical role of buildings“, finds there is a risk of a serious lock-in of inefficient buildings as countries without mandatory codes are expected to see an explosion of building construction, half of which by the early 2030s.

The pace and scale of the global clean energy transition is not in line with climate targets. Energy-related CO2 emissions rose again in 2018 by 1.7%. The buildings sector represented 28% of those emissions, two-thirds from rapidly growing electricity use. In fact, since 2000, the rate of electricity demand in buildings increased five-times faster than improvements in the carbon intensity of the power sector.

CO2 emissions need to peak around 2020 and enter a steep decline thereafter. In the Faster Transition Scenario, energy-related emissions drop 75% by 2050. The carbon intensity of the power sector falls by more than 90% and the end-use sectors see a 65% drop, thanks to energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies and shifts to low-carbon electricity. The buildings sector sees the fastest CO2 reduction, falling by an average of 6% per year to one-eighth of current levels by 2050.

Technology can reduce CO2 emissions from buildings while improving comfort and services. In the Faster Transition Scenario, near-zero energy construction and deep energy renovations reduce the sector’s energy needs by nearly 30% to 2050, despite a doubling of global floor area. Energy use is cut further by a doubling in air conditioner efficiency, even as 1.5 billion households gain access to cooling comfort. Heat pumps cut typical energy use for heating by a factor of four or more, while solar thermal delivers carbon-free heat to nearly 3 billion people.

A surge in clean energy investment will ultimately bring savings across the global economy and cut in half the proportion of household income spent on energy. Realising sustainable buildings requires annual capital flows to increase by an average of USD 27 billion over the next decade – a relatively small addition to the USD 4.9 trillion dollars already invested each year in buildings globally. Yet, cumulative household energy spending to 2050 is around USD 5 trillion lower in the Faster Transition Scenario, leading to net savings for consumers, with the average share of household income spent on energy falling from 5% today to around 2.5% by 2050.

Government effort is critical to make sustainable buildings a reality. Immediate action is needed to expand and strengthen mandatory energy policies everywhere, and governments can work together to transfer knowledge and share best practices. Clear policy support for innovation will enable economies of scale and learning rates for industry to deliver solutions with little increase in cost. Policy intervention can also improve access to finance, de-risk clean energy investment and enable market-based instruments that lower the cost of the clean energy transition.

Delaying assertive policy action has major economic implications. Globally, the scale of new buildings likely to be built by 2050 under inadequate energy policies is equivalent to 2.5-times the current building stock in the People’s Republic of China (“China”). Waiting another ten years to act on high-performance buildings construction and renovations would result in more than 2 gigatonnes of additional CO2 emissions from 3.500 million tonnes of oil equivalent of unnecessary energy demand to 2050, increasing global spending on heating and cooling by USD 2.5 trillion.

Source: International Energy Agency (IEA)

The report ‘Living in a World of Data’, drawn up by Schneider Electric, reveals the sustainability trends that are changing today’s business panorama and shows how technology is helping companies respond. According to Schneider Electric, the IoT will be the key for companies to take more informed decisions as regards energy and sustainability to reduce their impact on the planet, while improving their profitability.

The infrastructures and buildings infrastructures consume up to 70% of the world’s energy. Given the need to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, companies have started to place sustainable practices at the centre of their strategies. Digitisation, that provides energy efficiency potentials of 82% in the case of buildings and 79% in that of infrastructures, can be the key tool to facilitate sustainability.

In this regard, Schneider Electric has identified four trends in the corporate panorama that technology will help address:

Decoupling economic growth from environmental impact

Our planet’s resources and its demand continue to accelerate. For this reason, companies have to innovative so that their growth does not involve an increasing amount of expenditure in energy and resources. Technology and digitisation facilitate this sustainable optimisation of resources while reducing threats to business continuity. Innovations such as Industry 4.0 – with technologies such as the IoT or Cloud Computing – sustainable supply chains and Everything as a Service (XaaS) will be those that make this possible.

Improving sustainability reports

Companies with well-planned sustainability strategies, clear and informed initiatives based on accurate data can improve their scores on existing global indices and sustainability and environmental programmes. The IoT will be key to improving operational and energy efficiencies yet further, by providing real time data and allowing the auditable and traceable monitoring and identification of this performance.

The need to increase customer engagement

Companies have to learn how to measure, categorise and commercialise their products and services in a sustainable way. The keys are transparent corporate processes, optimised supply chains and a responsible and considered asset management. Technology is the means that make this possible, according to the report from Schneider Electric.

The 3 Ds + E

Digitisation, decentralisation, decarbonisation and electrification are changing the way business is done. The acquisition and analysis of data are crucial for information-based decision-making. As such, investing in digitisation is one of the key factors to shift from reactive business processes to proactive processes and to guarantee a positive rate of return. For example, the report from Schneider Electric shows that, by implementing digitisation projects, significant improvements in efficiency can already be observed within the first 12 months.

Technology as a sustainability and profitability facilitator

The report concludes that the deployment of IoT technologies by companies leads to a more efficient use of resources, an improved return, a more resilient business, enhanced health and safety in addition to risk mitigation.

Companies that reduce their energy consumption by 30 or 40%, can achieve a 10% reduction in their overall operating costs. Companies from every sector are already implementing these improvements, with the report particular highlighting the hotel, manufacturing and data centre sectors. For example, thanks to a new sustainable Data Centre, the Director General of Highways in Taiwan has reduced their energy use by 36%, saving one million Euros a year. In the industrial sector, the report cites machinery manufacturer Semyx, which has achieved improvements in productivity of 50 to 75% as a result of digitisation.

The Siemens Division Building Technologies adds new functionalities to the Synco IC cloud platform for remote HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) control. From July 2018 onwards, Synco IC includes remote meter reading for energy billing, remote monitoring of energy key performance indicators (KPIs) and remote intervention to reduce energy consumption. Synco IC, introduced to the market in 2015, is a cloud-based system for the cost-efficient operation and management of HVAC plants in small and medium size buildings.

With Synco IC Energy Monitoring, building operators can reduce energy consumption and collect billing data remotely at the same time. The system is scalable up to 2500 radio frequency meters or 250 wired meters. Collecting billing data from remote meter reading avoids walk-by or drive-by data collection, thus enhancing operational efficiency by saving travel and staff costs. Automatic data collection and validation minimizes human reading errors and prevents meter tampering and data falsification. Access to and use of customer data is controlled, customer data is kept secure.

Up to 100 sites can be connected free of charge, which makes Synco IC suitable for use in facility management companies that manage a large portfolio of smaller buildings. It is also the right choice for cities and municipalities that have a pool of distributed buildings, such as district offices, school buildings or retirement homes, or for companies that want to organize and maintain the building automation systems in their global branches and offices from a central location.

Commissioning of Synco IC Energy Monitoring is easy. Each site is connected within a few minutes in a plug&play mode by using QR-codes, whilst meters on site are automatically searched and detected.
Building operators and managers remain continuously under pressure to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emission in the housing stock. Synco IC offers simple supervision of all the control and meter data of the HVAC plants by one intuitive user interface. The interface shows data trends and enables benchmarking of energy KPIs across multiple buildings or tenant areas, e.g. for consumption per square meter for various energy types like heating, cooling, hot water, cold water, electricity. Remote intervention by modifying plant settings on room or primary level enables operators to accomplish and maintain optimal energy efficiency.

Synco IC is already installed on more than 15,000 sites globally, which now have the option to implement remote meter reading for energy billing, remote monitoring of energy key performance indicators (KPIs) and remote intervention to reduce energy consumption, thus substantially reducing building operational costs.

Source: Siemens

The European Commission has launched the pilot phase of ‘Level(s)’, a new EU- framework for sustainable buildings, which will help transform the building sector. It is the first tool of this kind that has been developed for use across the whole of Europe.

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said: “Level(s) can help us develop an environment built sustainably across Europe and support our transition to the circular economy. We are releasing this framework for the sector during World Green Building Week demonstrating Europe’s global leadership. It marks an important step towards a more resource-efficient and competitive construction sector in Europe.

 

Level(s) is the result of a broad consultation with industry and the public sector, and focuses on performance indicators across areas such as greenhouse gas emissions, resource and water efficiency as well as health and comfort. It aims to establish a ‘common language’ around what sustainable building means in practice – shifting the debate beyond energy performance.

The test phase for Level(s) is now being launched and will run until 2019. All building projects are invited to learn more about it and pilot the new tool. The European Commission will provide technical assistance to those applying all or parts of Level(s).

A common green language

James Drinkwater, Director of the World Green Building Council’s Europe Regional Network said: “This is a clear signal to the market that sustainable building practice is shifting from niche to norm. Having a common goal to deliver nearly zero-energy buildings across Europe galvanised industry-wide action, and now having a common language around ‘sustainable’ building helps us begin to really transform mainstream practice.

Level(s) is an open source assessment framework, developed by the European Commission in close collaboration with key players like Skanska, Saint-Gobain, Sustainable Building Alliance and Green Building Councils.

Two technical guidance reports have been released to support the pilot phase. The first technical report provides an introduction to Level(s) and how it works. The second technical report provides detailed guidance on how to make performance assessments using Level(s). The Commission will host a pilot workshop for organisations interested in testing Level(s) in Brussels on 4 December 2017.

Background

Level(s) focuses on the main aspects of a building’s performance, providing a simple entry point for those looking to build more sustainably. These aspects include: greenhouse gas emissions throughout the building’s life cycle, material life cycles which are resource efficient and circular, efficient use of water resources, healthy and comfortable spaces, adaptation and resilience to climate change, and whole building life cycle cost and value. Each indicator in Level(s) is designed to link a building’s impact with EU priorities for circular economy, and the framework effectively broadens the building agenda to deliver more of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Source: European Commission

The buildings in which Europeans sleep, eat, shop, learn and work, house a great opportunity for energy saving and emissions reduction, particularly in the so-called technical systems: heating, DHW, cooling, ventilation and lighting. A recent study by energy consultancy Ecofys, sponsored by Danfoss, shows the energy saving that can be achieved by improving energy management in Europe’s buildings. This hitherto under-exploited potential is calculated to save €67bn on the annual energy bill of European citizens by 2030, while reducing CO2 emissions by 156 Mt. Documents have been published as part of the study that focus on different types of buildings. This article sets out the main conclusions of the study in the case of supermarkets, along with some of the more recent success stories from Danfoss in this sector on the Iberian Peninsula.

Buildings allocated to supermarkets in Europe occupy an approximate surface area of 115 million square metres. Part of the study included an assessment of the energy saving potential of a sample supermarket with a surface area of 1,025 m2 and a total energy consumption of 181 kWh/m2a. This sample building is equipped with a gas condensing boiler for heating (with energy recovery for the refrigeration system); mechanical ventilation systems with no heat recovery; a refrigeration and air conditioning system by means of compression chillers; and a direct and indirect lighting system via fluorescent tubes.

 

Improvements to the technical systems in this sample supermarket reveal the possibility of achieving a 45% saving in energy, which translates into just over 8,000 €/year, with an investment of some €36,000 that would be amortised in around 4.5 years. Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY July-August 2017

To date, building certification standards have not taken into account the energy saving potential of every aspect relating to the automation and control of buildings’ energy consumption. The eu.bac methodology, based on currently applicable standards (EN 15232, DIN V 18599) and scientifically validated by the Technical University of Dresden (Germany), aims to fill this void. This article describes the success story of the hotel Pago del Olivo, demonstrating the savings potential that can be achieved in a building designed for hotel use following the application of this methodology.

Opened in January 2011, the hotel Pago del Olivo is a three-star establishment located in Simancas (Valladolid), offering 36 rooms, a 70 m2 lounge as well as indoor and outdoor car parking. Sedical undertook the certification, for which end an authorised inspector visited the establishment. Using a standard questionnaire, filled out by the owner, the person responsible for the building or the systems integrator, the authorised inspector checked to see if the stated functions were available and active.

 

Following a study of the documentation and the site inspection to check on the existence and type of control equipment, as well as ensuring it was working properly, the audit produced a score of 22 points with an E rating under the eu.bac system. The calculation tool also indicated that the installation had a margin for improvement of 78 points. Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY June 2017

The buildings where you sleep, eat, shop, learn and work hold a huge opportunity: EUR 67 billion savings on energy bills for EU citizens annually in 2030, and a reduction in emissions of 156 Mt. CO2. These groundbreaking results are presented in a study, released by energy consultancy Ecofys, a Navigant Company. The report, initiated by Danfoss, provides proof of the huge energy savings potential that can be obtained from better management of energy flows inside European buildings. A potential that has been insufficiently exploited.

We spend most of our time in buildings. It is, therefore, no surprise that buildings consume a large amount of energy. But 75% of our housing stock is energy-inefficient. Most of the vast amounts of energy is used to maintain the right temperature and air quality in heating, cooling and ventilation systems – collectively known as a technical building system.

 

When these systems are not working optimally, energy goes to waste, they cost money and cause damage to the health and the environment. But we have the technologies to prevent this. Consistent improvements could help reduce energy waste, cut costs and make our buildings better places to be. The report assesses a scenario where buildings are renovated in the period until 2030. The energy consumption in these buildings could be reduced by around 30% through upgrades to heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting and hot water systems.

We have all the technologies at hand to make our buildings smart. Taking the findings of the new Ecofys study into account, we see that optimizing the control of energy flows inside buildings and leveraging new technologies, like digitalization, could deliver around 15% of the EU 2030 energy efficiency target. Political support is needed to remove barriers and accelerate the speed and scale of the investments. This will send the right market signals for innovation, jobs and sustainable growth,” says Andre Borouchaki, Senior Vice President and CTO, Danfoss.

According to calculations by Danfoss based on the World Resources Institute’s report, Accelerating Building Efficiency, from 2016, reaching 15% of the EU 2030 energy efficiency target will create 300,000 new jobs.

The EUR 67 billion we can save annually on a full application of high performance technical building systems, mostly from not importing gas from third countries, could be invested in Europe instead, providing additional comfort and well-being for EU citizens.

The only way to significantly improve building energy efficiency is to focus on existing buildings. Nine out of ten of existing buildings in the EU will be occupied by 2050. Renovation of our building stock is more affordable than many currently believe. The investment cost for basic improvements of controls of energy flows inside buildings is low, and the payback time is two years to get the basics right.

The consistent optimization of the energy use of technical building systems in existing buildings across Europe should start now,” says Dr. Andreas Hermelink, Associate Director at Ecofys, a Navigant Company. “We are talking about no-regret measures that can quickly deliver very significant reductions of energy consumption, energy bills and CO2 emissions. The revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive should give a strong and effective push for unleashing the full cost-effective savings potential of technical building systems.

Source: Danfoss

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