European Building Summit 2023

Tools and models for sustainable construction, the challenge of doing more with less

Progressing towards sustainability is a global challenge and urgency. So the construction sector cannot be left out. Demographic growth, the excessive generation of waste and the urgency of reducing carbon emissions require a responsible and conscious approach to our actions. The European Building Summit – held on 24 and 25 May at the Barcelona Fair – dealt with some of the options and tools available to the sector.

In his opening speech, Professor Thomas Winterstetter, CEO of Werber Sobek, reminded congressmen that “we only have one planet on which to live, so you have to look after it.” In turn, he stated that there is still a construction challenge in today’s world given the population growth and the lack of buildings in some countries. Challenges leading to the need to build more with less material cannot be allowed to build like those in Europe on the rest of the planet.

In this regard, Winterstetter noted technology and innovation or BIM among others, as the great allies of sustainability in facilitating decision making to maximize energy efficiency, waste reduction and resource optimization. In addition, the design of buildings with detachment capacity and the re-use of materials is becoming crucial for promoting the circular economy and reducing environmental impact. In addition to listening to Winterstetter, one of the world’s best engineers, the European Building Summit gave an opportunity to learn about other experiences such as EOS Zenit energy, which, with Ivan Madrigal, became known for its commitment to rehabilitation.

Surfing the “renovation wave”

The European Union has the objective of reducing CO2 emissions from the current building park to zero by 2030. To achieve this, it has launched initiatives such as the ‘Renovation Wave’, which requires 35 million buildings to be renovated before that date. This comprehensive renovation involves moving from incentive to obligation and addressing both public and residential buildings. Decarbonisation and consideration of the life cycle of buildings are fundamental aspects for accelerating the transition to a more sustainable built environment. For this reason, EOS Zenit created the figure of the building renovator. An integrative model of all processes designed to facilitate transition to neighbours. He is a figure who performs all rehabilitation steps towards a sustainable building.

The importance of well measuring

To move towards sustainable construction, a joint effort is needed, including the adoption of responsible approaches at all levels that will enable the development of new legal frameworks, the implementation of efficient strategies, the measurement and evaluation of the impact of building. It is precisely measuring the environmental impact of buildings that is essential for ensuring the effectiveness of sustainability policies and regulations.

Licinio Alfaro, head of the ITeC Sustainable Construction Department, spoke about this, who stated that new technologies help us to measure the carbon impact of each square metre built in each building. This calculation must be calculated and shared within a common technical and legal framework. However, the importance lies in calculating (from now) and looking for mechanisms to minimize it.

It emerged at the European Building Summit that sustainability is an urgent issue that the construction sector must address without delay.