In their concluding statement, delegates at the Sustainable Built Environment D-A-CH Conference 2019 (SBE19) in Graz, which was co-organized by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), call for the mandatory introduction of specific targets and planning objectives to limit greenhouse emissions throughout the building lifecycle. They also assure industry representatives and politicians of their intention to make a contribution by developing the necessary methodological principles, industry-focused planning and evaluation tools, and climate-friendly construction solutions.
The “Graz Declaration on Climate Protection in the Building Sector” was formulated, debated, and agreed upon by around 400 delegates from over 30 countries over the last three days at the conference. This declaration is a response to the comparatively high resource consumption and environmental impact of the building sector: European buildings account for 40 percent of energy consumption and 35 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. These values are even increased when considering the manufacture of necessary building products.
“Buildings decisively contribute to our quality of life, but also burden the environment by their high resource consumption,” says Professor Thomas Lützkendorf, Holder of the Chair of Sustainable Management of Housing and Real Estate of KIT and co-organizer of SBE19 in Graz. “Buildings do not only have a long lifecycle, they also have long maintenance and modernization cycles. Buildings we build in 2025 will still exist nearly unchanged in 2050.”
For this reason, the Graz Declaration calls for determined action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, it reminds policy-makers of their role in formulating binding and technologically neutral requirements for climate protection. These requirements must be applied and implemented in concrete planning tasks. A defined goal is the introduction of budgets for greenhouse gas emissions over the entire lifecycle of buildings. The Declaration also emphasizes the need for funding programs to reward measures taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Another requirement is to ensure adequate infrastructure and human resources for building research. The Declaration is supplemented by recommendations for the real estate and finance sectors as well as by a voluntary commitment of the scientists to supporting politicians, business, and industry in their efforts to achieve the goals defined.
Participants of the conference in Graz this week discussed what can be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preserve resources, and prevent risks to health and local environment when planning, constructing, and operating buildings. New planning and evaluation tools, innovative building products, and novel business models were presented.
All industry and science representatives who spoke at the Conference agreed that reaching the UN’s sustainable development goals is essential for safeguarding natural resources and a basis for social and economic development. Limiting global warming to below 1.5°C is a crucial objective. Although it is generally accepted, it still remains to be translated into tasks and responsibilities of people working in the building sector. Specific requirements and targets for product innovations, building planning, and urban development are required. The Graz Declaration is designed to help implement these measures.
The Graz Declaration can be found on the server of der TU Graz.
More information on research conducted by Thomas Lützkendorf:
https://www.sek.kit.edu/kit_experten_luetzkendorf.php (in German)
Caption: The SBE19 conference committee Thomas Lützkendorf (KIT), Guillaume Habert (ETH Zürich), Michael Monsberger (Institute for Construction Management and Economics of TU Graz), Helga Kromp-Kolb (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna), and Alexander Passer (Working Group on Sustainable Construction of TU Graz) launched the Graz Declaration on Climate Protection in the Building Sector. (Photo: Lunghammer – TU Graz)
The SBE 19 Graz – the European conference on sustainability in the building and real estate sectors and on sustainable neighborhood and urban development – took place from September 11 to 14 at TU Graz. This year, the conference for the first time had a cross-border format encompassing all three German-speaking countries, i.e. Germany (D), Austria (A), and Switzerland (CH). It was organized and run by TU Graz in cooperation with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and ETH Zurich. It is part of a series of meetings leading up to the world’s sustainable built environment conference (WSBE20) in Gothenburg in 2020.
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