Reuse and recycle
Tina Paillet FRICS is RICS Senior Vice President & CEO of Circotrade. She says, ‘If we are serious about achieving net zero while meeting the need for high performing and affordable build space, retrofitting has a key role to play. The EU alone has set a goal of renovating 35 million buildings by 2030. To realise the full potential of decarbonising the building stock, we need to use more reused, recycled, and low carbon building materials’.
Retrofit can be completely complimentary to the circular economy approach. To make it work, we need to drive its adoption, so as many businesses and projects as possible start using circularity as a core principle. ‘Renovation and material passports are an important initiative providing information on materials used and allowing them to be salvaged and recovered for further use in other buildings. Connecting sellers and buyers at scale to create a viable secondary market is also an essential part of increasing circularity’, adds Tina.
In France, a new thermal regulation, RT2020 (which came into force on 1 January 2022 in respect of residential buildings), has embraced the renovation wave. Regulation RT2020 extends the goals of previous legislation to include the reduction of carbon emissions throughout the lifecycle of a building. ‘This means an ever-decreasing threshold in both embodied and operational carbon, and a regulatory framework that is foreseeable and which will progressively meet the targets that France has set,’ comments Tina.
What does low-carbon heating look like?
‘The vast majority of carbon emitted in the operation of buildings comes from heating systems, which makes designing interventions with that in mind critical,’ says Daniel Newport, Head of Net Zero - UK Policy, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. ‘But big questions remain as to how we get there,’ he adds.
What does low-carbon heat look like? Is it replacing natural gas with hydrogen, which has a very like-for-like feel to the consumer, but necessitates significant upstream infrastructure investment? Or is it switching to heat pumps, which will increase electricity generation requirements and raise the bar on making buildings energy efficient and on heating distribution systems. ‘Over the next few years, we are going to need really firm decisions on what the roles of these technologies are, because they really do define the challenge for householders and for businesses’, stresses Daniel.