No more “Business as usual” – time to scale up smart solutions towards net-zero

11/18/2021 12:29 PM CET

The principles of how buildings and infrastructure can be designed and built to lower carbon are currently being reshaped at a rapid pace. Going forward we need to scale the best innovations and solutions to accelerate the development towards net-zero further. On that journey we also need policy-makers to pave the way, creating a level playing field and daring to use the power of public procurement to speed up the green transition.

Lena Hök, Global Hållbarhets och -innovationschef Skanska AB
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2_World Green Building Council Lena Hök
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Lena Hök Skanska, Bhupender Yadav, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India, and, John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, U
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Lena Hök, our EVP Sustainability and Innovation, delivered this message and more, in a keynote speech to business and political leaders at COP26 in Glasgow this month. Read the speech in full:

Honorable Ministers, Excellencies, and friends of the industry transition

Let me get straight to the point. The built environment accounts for 40 percent of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions. This is a major challenge, but also implies we can be part of the solution.

The question “How can value chains drive industry transition?” is highly relevant.

To achieve the objective of lowering CO2 emissions, innovation and partnerships with various players is required. Partnerships with many of you in this room: with companies and states that want to spearhead the transition, is key.   

Three drivers underpin value chains that drive industry transition: (i) Develop and use insights that drive the transition to low carbon production, (ii) partner to innovate net zero solutions and (iii) transform to low-carbon construction.

The large amount of emissions originates from production of materials such as concrete, steel and asphalt, as well as the use of buildings. Therefore, to reduce carbon emissions in the buildings and construction industry via increased transparency and cooperation is needed throughout the value chain.

For us at Skanska, our climate target is validated as science based and our focus is to reduce the emissions in our own operations, AND value chain, to net zero by 2045. So far, we have achieved 47 % reduction of own emissions past 6 years. Clear demands, measuring and follow-up is essential. There are no short cuts.

Transparency on carbon emissions is needed throughout the value chain. Let me give you an example. We have developed an Embodied Carbon in construction calculator –called EC3. It is an online tool that collects the carbon emissions data of thousands of building materials, allowing building developers, designers, and contractors to see the potential impact of their projects, and to compare materials to find ways of reducing embodied carbon. Our aim is that EC3 or similar tools will be used by the whole industry to understand and reduce carbon in the value chain.

Embracing the benefits of the circular economy is crucial. The built environment sector is a major consumer of natural resources – with the need to fundamentally evolve the processes, components and systems it utilizes to obviate waste and increase efficiency.

Achieving this involves education, insight, and learning. We must partner to share knowledge, and to develop and innovate net zero solutions for the built environment.

One example is our concept for energy positive buildings Powerhouse, built in Norway: Through solar energy harvesting and thermal solutions from the fjord for cooling and heating, the building produces enough energy to cover its whole lifecycle, and shares overflow to power electric buses or other buildings

As we move forward, scaling these solutions will be critical for a full industry transformation.  

Let me conclude by saying; there is no more “Business as usual”. We as companies and public institutions are reshaping the basic principles of how buildings and infrastructure can be designed and built to lower carbon.