Sustainability

Three reasons why renovation and green infrastructure must inspire a great global reset in 2021

By Eline Lhoest
January 27, 2021

If 2020 was a year of unprecedented crisis when everything changed, then 2021 has to be the year that we start to build a sustainable new world fit for the 21st century.

As world leaders join the annual World Economic Forum this week, a key focus is on ‘How to save the planet’ with “a shift towards greener economies” as part of a global ‘Great Reset’.

So, what could a more sustainable post-pandemic future look like? For Knauf Insulation, increasing renovation rates and green infrastructure has to be put at the heart of any green recovery. Here are three reasons why:

 

1 Renovation is a win-win

Our EU Public Affairs Manager Katarzyna Wardal says: “Lockdown has given us all time to think about what matters most — caring for those who are vulnerable and caring for the world around us. Davos leaders could learn a lot from Europe where the ambition is to renovate 35 million building units by 2030.

The importance of renovation is well documented. In terms of climate action, buildings are responsible for 36% of emissions in Europe and renovating them is a highly effective way to reduce the continent’s carbon footprint.

This historic initiative will help Europe achieve its aim to be climate neutral by 2050 while improving living conditions for tens of millions of people and creating the hundreds of thousands of new jobs needed to retrofit these buildings.
Katarzyna Wardal, EU Public Affairs Manager

2 Green infrastructure is a natural solution

The crisis has also put a new emphasis on green infrastructure with the European Commission calling for an increase in green walls and roofs during the ‘Renovation wave’ as well as ambitious new Urban Greening Plans from towns and cities with populations over 20,000.

Jure Šumi, Knauf Insulation’s Group Brand Manager and Green Solutions’ Advocacy Lead, says: “Now, more than ever, the crisis has taught us that we need to rethink what urban areas will look like in future. We all need more nature in our lives.

In Europe there is a major drive to incorporate more green roofs, walls and spaces into urban areas.
Jure Šumi, Group Brand Manager and Green Solutions’ Advocacy Lead

“For example, the European Parliament Resolution on the EU Strategy on the adaptation to climate change calls for more green infrastructure and highlights its role in reducing emissions, conserving natural habitats, managing water and absorbing pollutants.”

 

3 Renovation makes lives better

For many people, the pandemic has heightened the critical issue of social inequality and highlighted the misery of lockdown homes that are desperately in need of repair while becoming increasingly expensive to keep at comfortable temperatures.

Our Group HR and Corporate Affairs Director Siân Hughes has been campaigning for better buildings for most of her career.

There is a moral imperative to focus any renovation strategy on the living conditions of the most vulnerable and to improve the hospitals, schools and other public facilities that are so critical to our societies.
Siân Hughes, Group HR and Corporate Affairs Director

“In Europe we are at the very beginning of an historic renovation revolution and this is exciting, but at Knauf Insulation we have always advocated the importance of quality renovation.

“It is not enough to simply renovate a building without assessing whether or not it is delivering the comfort that has been promised. The work must be carried out to the highest possible standards and those standards must be rigorously audited and proved to be effective.

“As new regulations are formulated in Europe to make this renovation revolution a reality, we are working hard with policy makers throughout 2021 to ensure theoretical promises of energy saving performance and improved living standards are delivered in reality.”

 

Quality is critical

Knauf Insulation has been involved in hundreds of thousands of renovation projects around Europe and has carried out hundreds of social housing pilot projects to improve renovation processes.

Barry Lynham, Managing Director of Knauf Energy Solutions (KES), says: “The pandemic has forced industries to be more innovative and focus on maximising the potential of the digital world.

“For several years now at KES, we have been refining retrofit techniques and material as well as using cloud computing, big data and digital monitors to demonstrate the effectiveness of a building renovation.

There is no longer any excuse for renovation work that fails to deliver what is promised.
Barry Lynham, Managing Director of Knauf Energy Solutions (KES)

If 2021 is to genuinely be the year of a great global reset inspired by sustainability — the perfect place to start would be with building renovation.

 

Picture in the header: Renovation of the 1950s six-storey corner building in the city of Würzburg, Germany