The German government has set ambitious targets, stipulating that as many existing buildings as possible are to be climate neutral by 2050. The building sector has an important role to play here as its consumption of energy, water and materials represent key influencing factors. The aim is for the building sector to become climate neutral through saving energy, increased system efficiency, the use of renewable energies and intelligent networking.
Conserving resources, looking to the future – Energy-efficient building
A building's performance depends on several factors: the insulating effect of the building materials, the building materials used and their method of production. Integrated technology for the heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation of the building is relevant, as are the solutions chosen to incorporate natural resources in the best possible way and to increase the proportion of renewable energies. The technology and design of the building envelope and the selection of façade systems – which can bring together a diverse range of functions in an intelligent and automated way – are important parameters in the overall system. Not forgetting the behaviour of the users; their ability to learn and use new technologies is key to the success. Great responsibility for the built environment and the sensible use of resources also lies with the architects and specifiers. Building concepts that permit neutral use for a variety of functions and needs enable the existing building to be retained over a long period of time without requiring new, energy-intensive construction measures. The location, the connection to the infrastructure and the density of the population in the area are all relevant factors for future-proof planning.
Reducing the issue simply to a question of thermal insulation and energy saving in buildings neither does the situation justice, nor does it address the challenges. That is why existing buildings are so important. Innovative strategies and technologies are required to deal with the existing building stock and to transform buildings and entire districts. Funding schemes are currently geared towards single buildings. Untapped potential lies within the networking of structures. At district level, reciprocal effects not only allow energy efficiency measures to be distributed; they also enable us to respond to demographics and population development. In view of the climate targets set, a networked, holistic understanding of the interdependencies is required. There is great potential, for example, in sector coupling. The coordinated interplay of the electricity, heating and traffic sectors allows synergies to be created when generating, storing and using energy.
The energy revolution will change the structure of our towns and cities. Unique features in terms of urban planning, function, design and, not least, architectural history must be reconciled with demands for energy efficiency and the conservation of resources. This may also present an opportunity. Building culture can continue to develop alongside research into alternative building materials and methods. Future-proof concepts will be driven by the aim of not consuming any additional resources – be it energy, materials or potential construction or land areas. In summary, the effect of this will be in favour of a circular economy that conserves resources and that combines economy and ecology. From district level right through to product level.
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