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From SDGs to sustainable building: what sustainability means in the real estate business

13.04.2021

When referred to building, the term sustainable has a very broad meaning, as it refers to, and influences, various areas of the real estate sector.

We focus on this issue for two reasons:

  • It is goal number 11 of the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) set for 2030 with the title “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.
  • On October 14, 2020, the European Commission published the “Renovation Wave”, an economic recovery strategy based on sustainable building and green renovations.

In the light of these important European goals, we can see that the concept of building sustainability is much broader than we are used to considering it, and goes way beyond the use of energy from renewable sources, the choice of eco-sustainable materials and energy efficiency issues, as we might be led to thinking.

Green building involves, and will transform, all the processes and areas of activity in the Real Estate sector, demanding new specialist skills at all levels.

 

Some of the main areas of sustainability in the real estate sector

 

  1. Design and environment

The design area is the starting point for a sustainable approach in the real estate sector.

In this first phase, the following will be investigated and chosen:

  • the shape, orientation and volume of the building or infrastructure, to integrate it into the surrounding environment;
  • tough, lasting yet eco-sustainable materials: natural or with low environmental impact;
  • high-energy-efficient systems exploiting renewable energy;
  • methods and technologies able to reduce work times on site, including, for example, our Morning Capital Digital Helmet.

 

  1. Energy savings and emission reduction

In this field, new projects are being developed on the basis of Directive (EU) 2018/844 on (i) the energy performance of buildings (EPBD Energy Performance of Buildings Directive) for the production of energy from renewable sources and (ii) the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Long-term renovation strategy for decarbonized, high-energy efficiency real estate by 2050;
  • Introduction of the smart readiness indicator for buildings;
  • Guarantee of transparency in the national calculation methods for the definition of the energy performance index;
  • Building automation and control systems (new requirements);
  • HVAC system inspection.

 

  1. Building materials and circular energy

Building materials require special attention: their eco-sustainability is an advantage for the health of both humans and the planet. During construction, waste materials can be used for new purposes, creating a low environmental impact in waste disposal, and can also be reused at the end of their life within a circular economy logic.

 

  1. Attracting private investments and stimulating green loan funding

With the ‘Sustainable Europe Investment Plan’, the European Union aims to mobilize at least 1,000 billion euros between public investments and private funds (European Green New Deal).

Around 100 billion euros per year are planned for investment in the building sector: renovations and increasing energy efficiency in new real estate projects and redevelopments.

In addition to the public funds already available, a new initiative called EeMAP– Energy Efficient Mortgage Action Plan involves the issue of “green mortgages” to facilitate the purchase of eco-sustainable buildings or buildings subject to energy efficiency improvements.

 

  1. Creating jobs with green skills

The spillover generated on the job market requires new professional figures with green skills. The European Social Fund will support skills development and retraining of an estimated 5 million people for green jobs and the green economy.

The real estate sector requires green architects and engineers, experts in environmental laws and the energy requalification of buildings, as well as experts in sustainable materials and photovoltaic system engineers.

 

From sustainable building to sustainability in Real Estate

The strategic choices of not only Real Estate players will therefore be decisive in achieving the now essential and significant goals set at European level.

 

Sources and for further information

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