style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; text-align: justify; ">The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has issued an appeal for better utilization of the climate protection potential of buildings, which account for roughly one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Speaking in Leverkusen on Tuesday, Arab Hoballah, Chief of the Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch of UNEP, said that the primary need is to sharpen the awareness of policy makers, market actors and other stakeholders of the need for and opportunities afforded by sustainable building.
Leverkusen was the venue of the Annual General Meeting and Symposium on Sustainable Buildings 2011 of the UNEP’s Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative (SBCI), held for the first time ever in Germany. SBCI-member Bayer MaterialScience hosted and sponsored the event.
Hoballah told the roughly 150 experts from around the world that the stakeholders have not yet recognized that sustainable building is a viable business model. According to him, environmentally friendly buildings not only help to conserve energy and avoid emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, they also help improve peoples’ quality of life. "Working in sustainable offices and factories is unequivocally good for your health."
Networking and sharing of know-how is key
Hoballah said that it is particularly important for the various stakeholders in the building sector to network more intensely to share best practices and to combine their know-how. This is the approach taken by the EcoCommercial Building Program (ECB), a unique, global network of experts under the leadership of Bayer MaterialScience. It follows a holistic planning approach that incorporates the building design, the use of innovative materials and the latest technologies for the generation of renewable energy, for example, from the outset. The respective geographic and climatic conditions are also considered.
Patrick Thomas, CEO of Bayer MaterialScience, pointed out the importance of effective insulating materials at the conference. "Insulating boards made of rigid polyurethane foam save around 70 times more energy during their service life than is required for their production." A variety of other aspects of the topic, such as renewable energies, urban development and climate policy, were also discussed at the conference.
New method for CO2 performance indicators
Another topic was a new measurement method developed by the SBCI to obtain globally standard performance indicators for energy consumption and the greenhouse gas emissions of buildings. This Common Carbon Metric (CCM) is intended to enable an internationally coherent standard. The aim is to establish a consistent method for measuring CO2 equivalents and for collecting and analyzing the data. The new tool is also intended to help identify, compare and evaluate advances in emissions reduction relative to certain building types in various climate zones.
Buildings account for roughly 40 percent of world-wide energy consumption and each year emit around 8.6 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalents - as much as is emitted by Germany, China and Japan combined. According to worst-case estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this could nearly double to almost 16 billion metric tons by 2030. At the same time, in no other sector can emissions be reduced as comprehensively and economically. According to the IPCC, existing products and technologies could reduce the energy consumption of both existing buildings and new buildings by between 30 and 50 percent by 2020 - without significant additional costs.
Bayer is also the first company in the world to enter a long-term partnership with the UNEP in the area of youth and the environment. This cooperation focuses on children and young people from all over the world who are interested in environmental issues and committed to protecting the world around them. The partners jointly aim is to support young people in their commitment to the environment, to expand their knowledge of the environment, to foster the global exchange of experience by building up networks.
For this purpose, Bayer and UNEP organize a dozen environmental projects for children and young people around the world every year. So far, more than two million young people have participated in these projects and thus benefited directly from this unique partnership. Bayer supports the joint projects to the tune of €1.2 million annually.