How we are able to make our properties and buildings extra sustainable in 2023

According to the International Energy Association (IEA), the building sector was responsible for around a third of global energy and process-related CO2 emissions in 2021.

Specifically, 6% of these emissions result from the production of cement, steel and aluminum used in construction; 8% from the use of fossil fuels; and 19% from the generation of electricity and heat needed for their maintenance.

This makes one thing clear: more attention needs to be paid to making our buildings greener and more sustainable.

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Fortunately, 2023 will be the year we begin to take some significant steps toward that goal.

“The construction sector has not received nearly the attention it deserves given the devastating impact on the environment,” Talia Rafaeli, a partner at KOMPAS, a Copenhagen-based early-stage venture capital firm, told TNW.

“I think that over the next year, the faster we provide funding to scale up sustainable technologies for the built environment, the faster we will achieve economies of scale to enable widespread adoption,” she added.

Rafaeli said investments should focus on: lower-emission concrete, green steel, cooling technologies to improve HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) systems, and heat pumps.

We are already optimistic about European companies developing projects for lower-emission concrete and green steel production.

Among them is Finnish company Betolar, a company developing a cement-based alternative to concrete. There are also Swedish manufacturers H2 Green Steel and SSAB developing hydrogen-based green steel solutions.

Betolar’s Geoprime solution has up to 80% less carbon footprint. Photo credit: Betolar

Still, there is a lot to do with existing buildings. dr Aidan Bell, co-founder of UK-based EnviroBuild, believes this is a “significant” step that should start with ensuring a home is well insulated. “Roof and wall cavity insulation [in particular is] very cost effective,” Bell told TNW.

There’s also additional technology for those who have already learned the basics, he added, telling us about Airex, a type of smart air brick that reduces heat loss.

Bell foresees two other trends for 2023: increased installation of solar panels on rooftops and the use of smart meters that allow for “better awareness of power peaks and valleys.” Even simple steps like running machines overnight can help reduce peak loads on the national power grid, he noted.

One way to promote this balance of energy consumption is through flexibility services. Chantel Scheepers – CEO of OakTree Power – believes these will likely become mainstream in 2023. The goal of these programs is to offer consumers financial compensation for lower energy consumption during peak periods, she told TNW.

Scheepers noted they’re growing in popularity in cities like London, where they’re being adopted by multinationals like the Financial Times and Pinsent Masons – showing their “enormous potential” for optimizing energy use.

Ultimately, making our buildings more sustainable won’t happen in 2023 alone, but every small action we take is critical in the long run – and there’s no better time to start than now.

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