Energy Series: Why don’t we just build new energy-efficient buildings?

Marie Bannister

Marie Bannister – Airthings


We’ve ascertained
 that the lack of data into existing buildings results in many being unaware of just how energy deficient their buildings are. Next up in our 3 part series asks the question: Why then, can we not simply build new energy-efficient buildings?Clouds  (1)
Energy-efficient buildings, also known as ‘green buildings’, do have a massive role to play in limiting harmful emissions (and improving the profitability of all businesses). On a global scale, energy-efficiency measures could save anywhere from €280 to €410 billion in total energy savings.[1] On a more local level, building owners have reported that green buildings command a 7% increase in asset value over traditional buildings.[2] Because of these reasons, it is key that energy efficiency is a top priority when creating new buildings.

However, this isn’t the true solution. According to Carl Elefante, former president of the American Institute of Architects, “the greenest building is one that is already built”.[3] This is because construction itself is already harmful to the environment, contributing to a third of the world’s overall waste and at least 40% of global CO2 emissions.[4]

A study conducted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation concluded that new buildings designed to be 30% more energy-efficient than the average building would take decades to overcome the negative climate change impact of their construction alone.[5]

Because neither creating new green buildings nor destroying old energy-inefficient buildings are sustainable options, the answer lies with eco-retrofitting. This means improving and upgrading existing what you already have bit by bit. The key here is to focus on quality, not quantity!

Considering this, the questions remains; how can we make existing buildings more energy-efficient? Find out in the final article of this 3 part series ➙

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Sources (because we don’t just make these things up):

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/Cost%20of%20Non-World%20-%20Final%20Report.pdf

[2] http://www.saint-gobain.co.uk/media/18079/world-green-building-trends-2016f_europe.pdf

[3] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265833292_The_Greenest_Building_Is_One_That_Is_Already_Built

[4] https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20211215-the-buildings-made-from-rubbish

[5] https://living-future.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/The_Greenest_Building.pdf