Central Europe Towards Sustainable Buildings 2016 – Summary

Jennifer Faddy, September 2016

The focus of the conference was on building reuse and retrofit because this is one of the major challenges to achieve carbon reduction targets in Europe.

One of the keynote speakers, Raymond Cole from Canada, called for recognition that buildings in their context needed to “do more good” and called for more inspirational concepts such as ‘regeneration’ and ‘dematerialization’ to be part of the sustainability discussion.

Particular policy issues were raised such as the idea for an instrument to provide positive discrimination to heritage buildings to allow them to compete for subsidy and eco-loan schemes, or for the social performance of buildings to be recognised in sustainability rating tools.

Other policy issues raised included the fundamental flaws and barriers to sustainability reform that can be identified in the Australian property industry, German research to determine why private homeowners are/are not motivated by green buildings instruments, and the concept of Zero Waste and the whole of life cycle of some recycled materials and the need to determine as part of decision making, if the secondary (and beyond) products are more or less environmentally beneficial.

image (01A)

The energy rating of the property is stated on real estate advertisements in Italy

Other papers fell into categories addressing Industrial Heritage Conversions, Building Analysis Techniques, Life Cycle Analysis, Rating Tools and Techniques, and New Materials and Methods.

There is a vast amount of work being undertaken in Central Europe to tackle retrofitting of entire residential buildings, and a fundamentally different attitude in respecting and working with existing buildings stock to that in Australia where we frequently dispose of good buildings well before the end of their design life. There is also a sense of commitment to zero carbon buildings and zero waste developments. The use of solar energy and/or other renewables is a given on almost any sustainability upgrade. Payback periods of up to 25 years are considered acceptable as there is recognition of the level of investment needed to make significant change in the existing building stock.

There are some similarities between the challenges being faced in parts of Central Europe and those being faced here:

  • Recognition that the trickle-down effect of engaging with “the big end of town” on sustainability issues hasn’t filtered down to the average home/building owner;
  • Acknowledgement that recycling and design for disassembly goals are not being achieved;
  • Concern that life cycle assessment parameters are too disparate and are difficult to use to make meaningful comparisons;
  • Building designers still don’t design to minimise waste.

The papers from this conference can be found at http://cesb.cz → Conference → Download → For Participants → CESB16 USB stick.

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