The construction sector is one of the main causes of climate-damaging CO2 emissions. According to UN estimates, more than half of the world's resource consumption is attributable to the construction industry. Not only the operation, but above all the construction and demolition of a building must be taken into account ("gray energy"). In view of the consequences of climate change and the goal of climate neutrality of the EU for 2050 and Germany for 2045, the pressure to act is high.
So how could building be done in a sustainable way? One solution for new buildings is to pursue the future-oriented approach of circular economy construction right from the planning stage. This involves not only building and operating in a way that conserves resources, but also selecting materials so that they can be recycled, i.e. reused. Clay and wood have long been tested as substitutes for house construction and have been used increasingly in recent years.
Our colleague Sophia Stettner, a junior consultant specializing in ESG, green building, and energy design & simulation, has contributed to a recently published book entitled "Nach-haltige Wohnbauten. Wood" by the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences (HfT). We are proud of her and asked her a few questions about it:
How did you come to be involved in the book project?
My intrinsic motivation for sustainability in the building sector is to find an aesthetic balance between climate-friendly construction and climate-adapted technology use, and to make future-oriented buildings a reality. I had just successfully completed my studies in "Climate Engineering" at the HfT, and it was a perfect fit, both in terms of content and timing, that my professor Harald Strauß asked me to collaborate on this book project about sustainable residential buildings.
What topic did you write about?
I wrote an article about the various uses and advantages of wood as a renewable raw material, based on a concrete pilot project in Switzerland. You can say that the Solar Direct Gain House N11 is a workpiece of built utopia.
What is particularly sustainable about this house?
It is a five-story, monolithic solid wood building in Zweisimmen in the canton of Bern, which was rea-lized by the n11 architects' office without a heating system. The technical building concept of the solid wood construction is based primarily on passive measures. For optimal comfort in the interior, and to ensure room temperature control based on passive solar energy generation, the room program is oriented purely to the position of the sun. In addition, the building owners have made a natural recycling economy in accordance with the C2C system and the associated reduction of gray energy their basic principle. In this way, they were able to demonstrate that a climate-friendly future in the building sector can already begin now.
What role does sustainability play in your daily work as a consultant?
I already worked for Alpha IC as a student trainee. That's why - and this was also important to me - I already knew that we basically consult with a focus on sustainability. And I can contribute my strengths in the areas of ESG, green building and energy optimization.
In addition, the colleagues at Alpha IC have developed an evaluation matrix that maps the circularity of the projected property in four categories, independent of BIM. With this tool, we can advise on the choice of materials and construction and continuously identify optimization potential with regard to C2C and its effects. This saves costs during the planning process and complements known building certifications in a meaningful and holistic way. This gives me many opportunities to pursue my motivation for sustainability on a daily basis.
Are you curious?
Here's the info on the book with our co-author Sophia Stettner: Sustainable Housing. Wood, Sustainab-le housing. Wood. edited by Prof. Dr. Harald Strauß, Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag GmbH, Ber-lin, 2022, ISBN 978-3-8305-5146-1.
And here is the link to our whitepaper "Circular Economy in the Construction Industry. Thinking in cycles and becoming sustainable with Alpha IC's C2C assessment matrix."
Just recently, Managing Director Carsten Boell, reported on the wood hybrid office building "The Cradle" in Düsseldorf's Medienhafen as part of our GEFMA Lounge Bavaria-Nuremberg. This project of Interboden Innovative Gewerbewelten GmbH & Co. KG is currently being built according to the CradletoCradle (C2C) principle. Click here for the report.