Climate-Friendly Buildings: Why We Need New Measures

22.06.2021 by Kerstin Fischer

What do we do with the enormous CO2 backpack that buildings already carry? And what impact will the currently more tightened climate targets have on the building sector? We spoke with Björn Brecht, Head of Product Management at Kieback&Peter. We have a long-standing partnership with the building automation company. 

  • The CO2 emissions savings gap has once again increased considerably as a result of the new climate targets. That will be 34 million tons of CO2 per year. What is the savings gap and what does it mean for real estate?

Legislators are working on many fronts to motivate us as citizens, entrepreneurs and as organizations to invest in achieving climate targets. For CO2 savings, the year 1990 is considered the baseline. Percentage savings are always based on emissions in that year. With the ratification of the Paris climate agreement, Germany has committed itself to introducing measures to achieve the climate targets and has adopted a CO2 reduction roadmap accordingly. There are regular milestones up to the year 2050. 2020 was one such target.

As could be seen from many publications, the target was not achieved as planned, especially in the building sector. A next milestone is set for 2030. If the savings path achieved between 1990 and 2020 is extended linearly to 2030, there is a huge savings gap of several million metric tons of CO2, which becomes even larger with the current goal of climate neutrality in 2045 and continues in subsequent years. So there is still a lot to do.

In concrete terms, this means that we need to increase the momentum with which we have reduced CO2 emissions over the past 30 years. It is not enough to do a little more of the known and proven measures. We need to implement fundamentally different measures. Many techniques and technologies for this have long been available. However, they are still too rarely used at present.

  • Given the growing political regulation and the increasing pressure everywhere to do business in a more climate-friendly way: What role will and can digitalization play in this?

Digitalization is an essential building block for making our lives more resource-efficient. This is especially true for the building industry. Buildings start with an enormous CO2 backpack, because the construction processes are not very standardized. This also applies to renovations, where industrially manufactured components can reduce construction time and CO2 emissions.

However, to fully exploit the possibilities of digitization in the building context, we need more than just digitalized construction processes. Building operations also need to be digitalized. In the lifecycle of a building, data-based optimizations enable significant savings. The use of AI-supported technologies opens up significant savings potential for investors, owners and operators of real estate buildings in terms of energy consumption and minimization of the CO2 footprint. Thus, ESG-compliant building operation can be implemented with little effort in individual properties or entire portfolios.

In many buildings, the conditions could be even better in terms of equipment with consumption meters, sensors and actuators. This also applies to new buildings. Here, the fragmented value chain of the real estate industry often stands in the way of establishing such an infrastructure, which would facilitate the use of optimization technologies. Therefore, consumption meters, sensors and actuators should already be planned for in the construction phase. Retrofits are possible, of course. However, legal requirements could provide support here.

  • What are two or three of your daily challenges as Head of Product Management at Kieback&Peter?

We have 50 locations in 11 countries where we market products and implement individual solutions for our customers. We provide an extensive portfolio for this purpose. We invest a lot in the development of our products. For this purpose, initiatives have to be accompanied and decisions prepared and made on a daily basis. We also have to adapt to the changing requirements of our customers. Whereas in the past the focus was on the management of buildings, today everything revolves around the reduction of CO2 emissions and ESG-compliant building operation.

  • Last but not least, how do you motivate others around you to live more sustainably?

"Living sustainably" is too big of a term. Economic cycles are so complex and interconnected that we don't fully grasp them. Personally, I orient myself to a few basic certainties. This is most visible in my mobility behavior. I get around town by public transport and bicycle. I don't use airplanes for destinations in Germany. Otherwise, I try to use products as long as possible. Whether this is enough to motivate others, I dare not say. But every contribution in the right direction is immensely important and can potentially make a difference. 

  • Thank you for the insightful interview!


Kerstin Fischer is an experienced communications expert and responsible for marketing and PR at Recogizer. She loves to work in an innovative market environment and has a personal passion for climate protection and sustainability.

Kerstin Fischer | Marketing & PR

Kerstin Fischer, Mitarbeiterin bei Recogizer

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