Low-carbon construction on agenda at Climate Policy Roundtable
Life cycle perspective is the key to promoting low-carbon construction
At its meeting on Thursday 9 December, the Climate Policy Roundtable discussed low-carbon construction. Concrete measures to promote low-carbon construction that were identified include life cycle analysis of emissions from buildings, land use planning and community structure, and investments in research and development. The meeting was chaired by Terhi Lehtonen, State Secretary to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, and Sara Nyman, member of the Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi.
An introduction to the future of low-carbon construction and on the roadmap for this was given by Matti Kuittinen, Senior Specialist at the Ministry of the Environment, and comments on this were presented by Aleksi Randell, Director General of the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT. In their presentations both Kuittinen and Randell stressed the carbon footprint of construction materials and the need for innovation.
The Roundtable also emphasised the shift in the perspective of emission reduction measures from the energy efficiency of an individual building to emissions during the building’s whole life cycle, and the need to expand the focus to areas larger than individual buildings.
Increasing the use of wood was considered important especially in public and industrial construction, but the Roundtable also emphasised that emissions from all construction materials must be reduced fast. The community structure may either facilitate or complicate a climate-smart lifestyle, and the assessment of the carbon footprint at the level of zoning should be further developed. Interaction between buildings and the energy system, smart solutions and sectoral integration should also be promoted.
“Municipalities can use their land use and zoning solutions to lay the foundation for low-carbon construction,” said Timo Reina, Deputy Managing Director of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.
“What is important in future is how buildings are linked to a climate-neutral energy system. Whenever possible, buildings should be connected to heating networks where they can make use of renewable energy produced from different sources, and their waste heat can be recovered and utilised,” said Jukka Leskelä, Managing Director of the Finnish Energy.
Support measures to boost low-carbon construction, expertise to promote exports
The Roundtable considered it important to introduce different kinds of support schemes to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency and the choice of sustainable heating methods.
”Building a low-carbon, energy-efficient house costs more when the investment is made. However, if one compromises on quality in the construction phase, one has to pay a high price for heating over the years to come. This is why low-cost funding for energy efficiency investments is so important,” says Liisa Rohweder, Secretary General of WWF Finland.
Another topic raised in the discussions was the position of Finland and other Nordic countries as leaders and trailblazers in low-carbon construction. The Roundtable pointed out that Finland’s strong expertise in construction should be further developed in such a way that carbon reduction can be turned into an export product, thus increasing the positive “handprint” of Finnish building in the world.
Special Adviser to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
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Senior Ministerial Adviser, Secretary-General of the Climate Policy Roundtable
tel. +358 295 250 185
Senior Specialist, low-carbon construction
tel. +358 295 250 268