Energy Efficiency
Climate Change

Stark climate change conclusions, optimism about building sector’s potential

Michael Zarin
Michael Zarin
August 16, 2021

The recently released IPCC report details a long series of stark, science-based observations regarding the state of climate change and the likely impacts in years ahead. That the climate will get “warmer, wetter, and wilder” is unavoidable at this point.

To reduce these negative consequences as much as possible, the only conclusion is that everyone across all economic sectors needs to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much and as quickly as possible.

That absolutely applies in the construction sector where most of ROCKWOOL’s business is concentrated. Buildings and construction are responsible for around 30 percent of global energy demand and carbon emissions, and around 33 percent of resource consumption and waste generation.

The encouraging news is that building new and renovating existing buildings for energy efficiency, circularity, and long-life does not require making new discoveries or entirely changing the way the sector operates. But it does require commitment and action from policymakers, building owners, and the construction sector to utilise existing technologies, products, and building methods to achieve these outcomes.

In nearly all IPCC scenarios for keeping temperature increases to Paris Agreement levels, energy efficiency accounts on average for more than 40 percent of the needed carbon emissions reductions. Simply put, energy efficiency is essential to achieving the Paris climate goals.

What’s more, saving energy – and then generating renewable energy to satisfy the remaining requirements – is the most efficient, cost-effective way of decarbonising society. Saving energy, even when that energy is renewable, reduces the overall energy system capacity needs, thereby making the transition to renewable energy even more affordable.

In addition to looking at how we construct and renovate buildings and the materials we use to do so, it is also essential to reduce the environmental impact of how we manufacture these materials. And that’s an area we are working on hard – and have been for a long time.

These efforts are key to achieving ROCKWOOL’s science-based target to reduce our global lifecycle emissions by one-third by 2034. Among other innovations, we have developed two melting technologies that substantially reduce carbon emissions from this core production process. And the results are showing. For example, already in 2021, we are reducing our carbon emissions in the Nordic region by 70 percent compared to 1990.

To be sure, we all need to do even more. The challenges are enormous and the consequences for falling short could be catastrophic. But we are also optimistic about the future. Especially in the built environment, so much can be done already with existing technologies and materials. The time to act is now.