Why sustainability in the building sector is essential for climate protection
The real estate sector is one of the biggest sources of CO2 emissions in Germany. The German government’s goal is therefore to reduce the primary energy demand of buildings by 80 percent by 2050 compared with 2008. The remaining energy demand is then to be covered predominantly – i.e., more than 50 percent – from renewable energy sources.
The Federal Environment Agency’s study “Climate-Neutral Building Stock 2050”, for example, presents practical concepts and technologies for achieving these ambitious goals. Connected and energy-saving lighting, energy storage, regenerative power generation and combined heat and power generation are just some of the possibilities presented in it.
This raises hope that climate protection in buildings can be implemented. But it also shows that the challenges for the construction industry, and especially for building developers, will continue to increase in the future. How can they counter them?
Sustainability in the construction industry: What characterizes sustainable projects?
Acting according to the principle of sustainability basically means: Resources should always be used with consideration for future generations. This principle of action applies to a wide variety of industries.
But what does “sustainable construction” mean? In the real estate sector, sustainability means constructing energy-efficient buildings or renovating existing buildings in an energy-optimized way.
Resources also play a role in this, of course. But it’s not just a matter of using the right materials sparingly and also planning a PV system on the roof. Above all, sustainable construction means recognizing interrelationships, planning with foresight and implementing holistic projects with added value for people and the environment.
In order to lead real estate projects to success in the future against this background, it is important, among other things, not to view a building as an isolated real estate project. Rather, real estate must be seen in the context of urban quarters or commercial areas.
Sustainability in construction – these factors are part of it:
- Anchoring sustainability in all lifecycle phases – from planning to construction and operation to deconstruction of the building
- Use recyclable building materials (cradle-to-cradle principle)
- use space efficiently
- use sustainable materials and Use sustainable materials such as wood and secondary building materials such as recycled concrete
- plan real estate projects efficiently – for example, using digital tools and with the support of algorithms
Sustainability in the construction industry thus ultimately aims to build projects on the three pillars of sustainability: Economy, Ecology and Social.
The economical dimension: Reducing costs
The economic dimension focuses on building-related lifecycle costs, the economic viability and value stability of real estate projects. The aim is to reduce costs as early as the planning and construction stages and also to keep construction follow-up costs low.
Considerable savings potential can be achieved during the planning phase, for example, through a comprehensive life cycle cost analysis.
The ecological dimension: Conserving resources
The ecological dimension deals with ways of conserving resources. The aim is to optimize the use of building materials and products, make efficient use of available land, preserve and promote biodiversity, and reduce the consumption of energy and water.
Building developers should consider all necessary energy and material flows. They must also ensure that local environmental impacts from the production of building materials and building use are minimized. Environmental impact should be kept to a minimum at both the local and global level.
The social dimension: Focus on people
The social dimension is aimed at people. Well-being and health depend, among other things, on a high quality of life, to which buildings can contribute. To achieve this, they must be designed to be sustainable, functional and appealing.
This sustainability dimension focuses on the user needs and functionality of buildings as well as their cultural and aesthetic significance.
Key to sustainability: construction industry must build efficient buildings
Today’s builders must incorporate all of the above factors into their building design. However, one of the biggest levers for achieving CO2 reductions is and remains building efficiency. A building is efficient if it consumes as little energy as possible.
Almost 40 percent of Germany’s total energy consumption is used in the building sector, and 85 percent of this energy is required by private households for heating and cooling. The savings potential in the building sector is enormous: The German building stock comprises around 19 million residential buildings and 1.9 million heated or cooled non-residential buildings.
Digital energy optimization: analyzing and planning buildings transparently
In order to optimally leverage the efficiency potential of their building projects and contribute to sustainability in the construction industry, building owners will have to use all the data available to them in the future.
Sustainable building starts with the planning of real estate projects. Building owners can use data in this important phase to set the course for sustainable construction and:
- Compare building materials, facade designs and energy sources,
- use resources and labor efficiently,
- minimize the risk of time and cost overruns in construction projects at an early stage,
- and thus achieve high building efficiency.
Efficient buildings are not only a win-win in terms of sustainability. Against the backdrop of a shortage of skilled workers and rising construction costs, it also pays to plan buildings efficiently from the outset.
Better analysis of building models – for even greater efficiency
The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) has published a guide to sustainable building. Even today, project developers and builders, as well as all others involved in construction, can leverage many efficiency potentials. For even more sustainability in the construction industry, the publication encourages the topic of sustainability to be anchored in the planning process.
For this to succeed, transparency is needed across all available data. The BIM method, which combines real estate data into digital building models, can prove to be a particularly helpful tool in this regard.
These models can be easily visualized so that real estate can be planned and executed even more transparently. For this to succeed and to finally be able to use BIM profitably, builders need a tool like TWINGINE.
With TWINGINE, builders plan efficiency right from the start TWINGINE’s
Building Model Analyzer ensures that all relevant data is available for a real estate project in the required quality. A digital building model is then created on this validated database, for which the most important information is combined in clear dashboards.
In this way, building owners can view different planning options at a glance, compare facade and construction materials, contrast building variants and thus make informed decisions more quickly.