Renovation

Our secret weapon in the battle against climate change

Deborah 'Debbie' Kelly Spillane
Deborah Kelly Spillane
28 May 2021
Case study SFH in Monza (Italy) after renovation.
ROCKWOOL Solutions for: facades, ETICS

There are so many great reasons to renovate, from creating a more comfortable home for your family to making your house more energy efficient. But did you know that upgrading your home can even improve your health? Or that renovation can reduce the energy used in buildings by more than 50 percent?

Let’s think about carbon emissions. There is a lot of discussion about reducing air travel and playing our part in the battle against climate change. But did you know that aviation accounts for a mere 2.5 percent of global CO2 emissions[1]?  With buildings accounting for 30 percent of final global energy demand and 28 percent of CO2 emissions[2], surely renovating the global building stock is a better place to start. Globally, more than 50 percent of the existing buildings will still be in use in 2050[3], so the action we take – or don’t take – today will have long terms impact. By renovating the existing buildings that we live, study and work, we will not only help combat climate change, but also improve our health, quality of life and energy bills.

Saving energy, money and the environment

Did you know that a staggering 50-90 percent of the global energy used in buildings today could be saved by applying existing energy efficiency products and technology[4]? Just think about all the energy used in buildings for lighting, electricity, heating and cooling, and so much of it goes to waste in draughty, older buildings that lack modern insulation. Renovating your home to improve its energy efficiency empowers you to gain more control of your energy consumption and lower your energy bills, all while contributing positively to our environment.

It is not just our homes that benefit from renovation. In fact, every building in the world - every home, office, school, factory and hospital – needs to be net zero carbon by 2050 to keep the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius[5]. According to a report by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), not even one percent of all buildings worldwide currently meet these standards. To get even close to this target and truly take up the fight against climate change, governments, businesses and non-governmental organisations need to join forces and ensure that renovation rates start to increase now – rapidly. With today’s technology and designs, it is possible to build low carbon cities by using more sustainable materials that can be recycled, reused and that have a long lifespan. Net-zero carbon buildings (ZCB) are green and healthy structures with excellent thermal efficiency, renewable energy sources and insulation that shields them from the external temperature changes. They do not have any carbon emissions associated with their annual energy demand. Without doubt, renovating our existing building stock and building to ZCB standards needs to become a strategic pillar in every governments’ approach to tackling climate change. Whether it’s your own house or the town hall, renovation needs to be on the agenda to build a more sustainable future for generations to come.

A safe, healthy and comfortable haven for your family

Maybe it’s not surprising, considering we spend nearly 90 percent of our time indoors. Heat-loss, draughts, noise, leaks and mould are just some of the issues that can occur in older homes that have not been renovated to meet today’s standards. The temperature, light, air quality and sound absorption in a building can all have a significant impact on our health. If the indoor environment is too warm or too cold, or damp or draughty, mould can grow – and this is linked to asthma and other respiratory diseases. Studies show that:

  • People living in damp homes are 40 percent more likely to develop asthma
  • In the workplace, employee performance decreases by six percent when the environment is too warm
  • Poor air circulation in buildings can lead to several health issues, such as fatigue, nausea, headache and coughing
  • Elevated noise levels can lead to permanent hearing-related illnesses like tinnitus, reduced focus in children, higher annoyance levels, stress-related illnesses and even increased risks of heart disease.

Modern insulation not only makes your home more energy efficient, it also ensures the optimal indoor environment that allows your family to thrive. In warm and humid climates, insulation helps to keep the warm and moist air outside and the airconditioned air inside, and in colder climates, the insulation keeps the icy air out and the warmed air inside. The use of sound cancelling materials like soundproof walls and acoustic tiles can significantly reduce unwanted noise and contribute to quieter, peaceful and more restful environments. Some types of insulation are also non-combustible and this keeps the inhabitants safe should a fire occur and prevents the spread of fire to limit structural damage. So from comfort to concentration and to safety, renovating our homes plays a vital part in maintaining a healthy indoor environment and improving our quality of life.

The reasons to renovate are many – from creating a cosier and healthier home for your family to saving money on your energy bill and knowing you’re reducing your carbon footprint as a result. What’s more, renovating the entire existing building stock is a vital step towards combatting climate change and building a more sustainable future for generations to come.

Sources

[1] https://ourworldindata.org/co2-emissions-from-aviation

[2] UN/IEA/Global Alliance for Buildings & Construction, Global Status Report 2017, p.14, figure 7

[3] IEA, 2013, ‘Transition to Sustainable Buildings – strategies and opportunities to 2050’

[4] BPIE, 2014, page 10

[5] worldgbc.org/news-media/every-building-planet-must-be-‘net-zero-carbon’-2050-keep-global-warming-below-2°c-new  

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