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Energy efficiency in buildings

Energy efficiency

The construction sector at the heart of the green transition

Blog post by David W Briggs, CEO of the VELUX Group. The blog post is part of a series of perspectives leading up to the IEA's 7th Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency held in Sønderborg, Denmark, on 7-9 June.
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18 May 2022

David W Briggs, CEO of the VELUX Group

David Briggs is CEO of the VELUX Group. David began his VELUX career in France in 1991. Since then, he has held a number of key management positions within the VELUX Group, including General Manager of the VELUX Great Britain sales company.

David was also responsible for establishing Altaterra, a sister company of VELUX Group. Before being appointed CEO in January 2018, he was Senior Vice President for Sales, Product Development and Product Management and a member of the VELUX Management Group. David has a degree in Business Administration from Middlesex University and École supérieure de Commerce de Reims.

Climate change is happening rapidly and so are the consequences of not fighting it adequately, intentionally and consistently. Scientists have shown us the marked impact of climate change on the world and its inhabitants. They have also shown us that it is still possible to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 1.5°C. In their latest report, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) estimated that we must reduce carbon emissions by 48% before 2030 to stay at the 1.5°C target in 2050. That is achievable but only if we all play our part by taking action and ownership.

The construction sector is both a challenge and the solution

Our sector – the construction sector – plays a particularly important role in the transitions ahead as it is responsible for 36% of global carbon emissions. That means we will simply not achieve the Paris Agreement without putting the construction sector at the heart of the green transition, and that we as a sector have a duty to be part of the solution.

26% of emissions come from the use of existing building stock, mainly from heating and cooling. We can reduce this amount by increasing the number and extent of renovations of existing buildings, focusing on energy efficiency and indoor climate.

10% of global carbon emissions come from manufacturing construction materials for new and existing buildings. We can reduce this amount by strengthening the focus on how we manufacture, use and re-use construction materials.

Recommendations from the climate partnership for the construction sector

The climate partnership has estimated that implementing the proposed measures by 2030 will result in a net reduction in CO2e emissions of approximately 5.8 million tonnes per year.

Explore the recommendations

The real impact comes from working together across the value chain

At VELUX, we are highly conscious of our own company footprint, that of our products and the sector as a whole. That’s why we have an accordingly ambitious  sustainability strategy, which aims for carbon neutrality by 2030.

To guide and inspire our efforts, we have signed up to the most ambitious targets within the Science Based Initiative targets (SBTi). We want to become carbon neutral in our own operations and reduce carbon emissions in our value chain by 50% by 2030. To become carbon neutral in our own operations, we have power purchase agreements  and an Energy Excellence Programme for energy assessments, improving energy efficiency and expanding onsite renewable energy at our production plants.

However, the emissions from our company are only 6% of the total emissions from the value chain of our roof windows. Therefore, we need to work closely with other companies in our value chain and make strategic partnerships and purchase agreements with suppliers that share our intentions.

Going beyond carbon neutral to life-time carbon neutral

But we won’t stop there. At VELUX, we have committed to becoming life-time carbon neutral by 2041, 100 years after the company was founded. We have calculated that our past emissions amount to approximately 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 and we are working with WWF to capture these historic CO2 emissions through several forest and biodiversity projects around the world. The first is our Forest Regeneration Project in Uganda’s Albertine Rift. When implemented, it will capture approximately 1 million tonnes of CO2.

We need a dramatic increase in the renovation rate

It is complex and challenging, but also important and worthwhile when we see that we are on the way to getting our own VELUX business in order. Now is the time for all other businesses and organisations involved with the global building stock to act. With the right focus, tools and funding, we can ensure a sustainable, resilient, energy efficient and carbon neutral building stock that is both healthy and affordable. It is a major challenge, but also an opportunity that we need to seize.

The current renovation rate is approximately 1% whereas the International Energy Agency recommends an increase of a minimum of 2.5% by 2030.

If we reach that level by 2030, we will be on track to renovating most existing buildings and to making the existing building stock energy efficient, healthy and carbon neutral by 2050. That’s a commitment we have already made at EU level. All new buildings need to be Net Zero Carbon ready by 2030, meaning that they are designed with minimum impact on carbon emissions during their lifetime, including carbon emissions from manufacturing of materials.

But there is still a long way to go. Not only is the renovation rate far below where it needs to be, but so too is the extent of the energy renovations carried out. In other words: currently, most renovation projects do not reach their full potential in terms of both energy efficiency and also comfort.

Use the global challenges to increase the green transition         

In recent years, the need for a sustainable transition has grown even more urgent.  COVID-19 related lockdowns and now the war in Ukraine have starkly underlined not just the inequality of our housing stock, but also the consequences of these sub-par conditions on health, well-being, energy usage and energy dependency.

The rallying cry for action has been strong, and it is being heard. Across the world, and in the EU in particular, vast sums of money have been earmarked for building renovation as part of national recovery and resilience plans. These need to be made into concrete projects and accompanied by powerful legislative frameworks that will help achieve our ambitions and unlock societal, environmental and economic benefits.

For this reason, we need to make sure that the revisions currently on the legislative table – for example, the European  Performance of Buildings Directive and the Construction Products Regulation – create the most ambitious platform for impact and success. For this to happen, the building industry has to step up to the plate together. We have to share our experiences and our solutions and illustrate that the solutions already exist today, and that the way to a decarbonised world starts with using less –and working smarter.

The blog post is part of a series of perspectives leading up to the IEA’s 7th Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency held in Sønderborg, Denmark, on 7-9 June.

Contact Velux

For more information about Velux and engagements as part of the IEA’s 7th Annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in Sønderborg, please contact Julie Kjestrup, EU Affairs Lead, on [email protected]

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