Environmentally friendly building in practice – what are we waiting for?

May 22, 2008

Experience shows that an environmentally friendly building with a low consumption of energy and water, environmentally friendly materials, good indoor climate etc. can be built at a small extra cost, which can be earned relatively quickly due to savings in energy costs. So why is this field not moving faster? Using the most recent national and international measures to promote a development toward more environmentally friendly building as a starting point, this project examined the most important barriers to getting the development started in Denmark. The project has furthermore pointed to measures that can promote environmentally friendly building in practice.

Mikkel Krogsgaard Niss

 

From September 2007 to October 2008 The Danish board of Technology worked with a project on environmentally friendly building. Technology allows for building of houses with a very low consumption of energy and with a smaller use of environmentally harmful materials than what is normal today. At the same time there are a long range of measures in the field taken by private investors, research institutions, interest organisations, the building industry, building material producers and many others. In spite of this it does not seem like environmentally friendly building has reached beyond the stage of research yet in Denmark.
So how come more is not happening in this field? Why is the extent of environmentally friendly building much bigger in Germany, Austria and Switzerland? What are the current Danish barriers? What incentives can be pointed to, to get the development going on the practical level? What could the strategy of the large public building owners – state and municipalities – be – and what about the private building owners?
Using the most recent national and international measures to promote a development toward more environmentally friendly building as a starting point, this project examined the most important barriers to getting the development started in Denmark. By involving important actors in the building industry and the current examples of bigger environmentally friendly buildings eg in Stenløse, Køge and Ringgården, barriers and future possibilities were assessed. Good ideas to promote initiatives on the concrete level were pointed out, and a base for communicating practical experiences was created.

 

The working group suggested six initiatives to be taken by the Danish government to counter the barriers. The initiatives are:

  • The government should make specific goals for reducing CO2 emissions in the building sector and not only in the society as a whole.
  • The public sector should be a frontrunner and model for saving energy in old as well as new buildings.
  • The building regulations should be changed so that the planned demand for reduction of CO2 emissions coming up in 2015 should be accelerated.
  • The government should build demo-houses and the demo-projects should be evaluated in a thorough and uniform way. Good experiences should be promoted.
  • There should be financial incentives for people who build in a climate friendly way. This could work through the taxation system.
  • There should be made uniform standards for the calculations of the total costs of constructing and running climate friendly buildings.

To plan the project a planning group has been established. The planning group consisted of the following members:

  • Søren Dalby, director, Innovation MidtVest.
  • Ole Michael Jensen, senior researcher, Danish Building Research Institute
  • Olaf Bruun Jørgensen, civil engineer, Esbensen Consulting Engineers Ltd..
  • Palle Jørgensen, business manager, Building Association Ringgården.
  • Vibeke Grupe Larsen, architect The Architecht firm vglcph
  • Jonas Møller, special consultant, Danish Construction Association.
  • Jan Poulsen, Building and Plan Division, Egedal Municipality.
  • Rie Øhlenschlæger, architect, The Architecht firm AplusB

The project was led by Project Manager Ulla Holm Vincentsen. Project worker was Mikkel Krogsgaard Niss.