The future of construction is sustainable

Concern about green or sustainability issues is growing and governments are taking strong measures to alleviate this common problem. The construction sector is responsible for 36% of the total CO₂ emissions.

Thinking about a sustainable world means assuming that the resources offered by the environment are not eternal and, therefore, we must use them responsibly and rationally. In 1987, the concept of sustainability was first heard in the Informe Brundtland prepared by the United Nations. The premises of this study are the same as those with which we understand sustainability today: social development, environmental protection and economic growth.

More than 30 years after we first heard sustainability, the major dilemmas of this issue remain unresolved. What is clear is that we must guarantee the current needs of society, but without compromising the needs of future generations.

The sectors of logistics, petrol and gas, automobiles and construction are those that have historically produced the highest emissions to the environment. According to Suzanne Senellart, portfolio manager at Mirova, the construction sector makes up for 36% of the CO₂ emissions.

The European policies for the construction sector are aimed at a green future with the goal of zero carbon by 2050. To meet such a proposal, it is necessary to turn to sustainable architecture, using techniques and materials that respect the environment during the construction process, as well as reusing excess in a more efficient way.

In Spain, the demand for new housing is minimum when compared to land with pre-existing buildings. The problem arises when these buildings do not comply with current sustainable regulations and must be rehabilitated. At present, some 30,000 building are renovated every year, 0.12% of the total build, a figure far from the 3% stipulated by the European Union to achieve zero carbon by 2050. In this sense, Spain also faces another challenge, since construction companies have traditionally been in charge of new construction projects and not rehabilitation, which means that they now have to reinvent themselves in order to continue growing within the sector.

Building sustainable houses is not simple, but it is profitable. Passive constructions are those that prioritize the use of renewable resources, such as solar or wind power, both in construction and in basic housing supplies. In this type of construction, the initial investment is higher, but it is recovered within 15 years, in addition to minimizing the environmental footprint.

In cases of rehabilitation of pre-existing buildings, prices range between 15,000€ and 30,000€, according to sources from the Spanish Green Building Council, offering an annual savings of 640€.

The future of the construction sector is in everyone’s hands, betting on efficient buildings, economic savings and especially for the environment and our planet.

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