For a better environment tomorrow we need sustainable buildings today

By Anna Dukhno
June 05, 2019

Today is World Environment Day, a day designated by the United Nations to focus on generating global awareness and action to protect the world’s environment.

At Knauf Insulation we believe that sustainable buildings should be at the heart of any initiatives to improve the environment.

And this is why: buildings consume 40% of energy in Europe, produce 36% of its carbon emissions and generate up to 30% of its waste. Clearly, this is an appalling environmental legacy to leave future generations.

Energy efficiency reduces environmental impact

To make buildings more sustainable we have to start with the basics — the biggest source of carbon emissions is the energy used during the life of a building. Making buildings energy efficient must be top of any agenda for environmental action.

The European Commission, for instance, has outlined a vision for a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 reinforced by laws that require all new buildings to be nearly zero-energy by the end of 2020 and mandating national renovation strategies across Europe to decarbonise building stock by mid-century.

Other countries must show the same level of ambition. An estimated 60% of the buildings in the world have not even been built yet and this offers a huge opportunity to create sustainable towns and cities from the start.

Efficiency policies must deliver their promise

At Knauf Insulation, we also believe a critical component of sustainable building policies is ensuring any energy efficiency promise are delivered in reality. And that means installing effective energy saving solutions that perform as promised in a way that maximises their potential.

Our research and development teams are working to ensure everyone benefits from our solutions whether it is launching new centres for sustainable building excellence or supporting multi-national initiatives to create new policies that create the sustainable buildings of the future.

New ways are needed to tackle building waste

Waste and resource use are two other vital aspects of building sustainability. We must find more efficient ways to do more with less, recycle and reuse more and pave the way for a genuine circular economy where building materials and buildings have minimal environmental impact.

At Knauf Insulation we have a long way to go, but we are proud of our continuous improvement. For example, our Glass Mineral Wool with ECOSE Technology is manufactured using up to 80% recycled material and at our St Helens plant in the UK a facility developed by Veolia now transforms 350 million waste glass bottles into insulation.

We are also piloting a range of initiatives to reuse materials including compressing secondary plant waste into tiles and reusing old insulation in social houses to creating pre-fabricated wall panels with recycled demolition waste and creating new forms of insulation with a partner in The Netherlands.

Insulation has been proven to maintain its energy-saving power even after 55 years and with the European Insulation Manufacturers Association (EURIMA) we have produced a video and guide to the effective removal of insulation for recycling or reuse.

We need to clear the air

With more than nine out of 10 people breathing polluted air with deadly consequences, the United Nations has taken the theme #beatairpollution as the theme of today’s World Environment Day. The UN’s recommendations for action include choosing non-toxic building materials.

Our Mineral Wool with ECOSE Technology is certified by Eurofins Indoor Air Comfort Gold as an “outstanding material” according to Volatile Organic Compounds and Indoor Air Quality emissions certification. Considering most people spend 90% of their time indoors this is reassuring.

We are also encouraging more and more developers to incorporate green roofs into their building projects to help clean polluted air.

Cities such as Singapore or Copenhagen already mandate extensive green roof areas in their urban plans and our Urbanscape Green Roof has proved to be a major global success capable of absorbing carbon emissions and airborne pollutants.

World Environment Day is an opportunity for us all to think about taking action to reduce our environmental impact. At Knauf Insulation we believe we have to start with sustainable buildings.

Visit World Environment Day to join the #beatairpollution campaign