HomeLatest FeedsTechnology NewsThey calculated how much our built environment contributes to climate change

They calculated how much our built environment contributes to climate change

The environmental load of buildings can only be accurately determined by examining their entire life cycle.

The AmCham Workspace and Facilities Management Committee held its first meeting this year. In the course of this year’s professional activities of the committee, the topic of ESG is covered, since real estate investment or operation is now unthinkable without taking these aspects into account. In the first session, the topic was chapter “E” of the ESG, and the members listened to the presentation of Gábor Szarvas, head of the HuGBC EU Taxonomy working group, as an expert.

At the meeting, Zsolt Kákosy MBA MRICS, the chairman of the committee elected at the end of last year, senior director of ICON Real Estate Management, head of property management, introduced himself. The representatives of AmCham and the members of the committee were hosted by ICON in the conference hall of the Academy Park, the participants were welcomed by Gábor Nagy, the managing director of ICON REM.

The built environment contributes significantly to climate change, it's time to change this (Photo: CDE UAL)
The built environment contributes significantly to climate change, it’s time to change this (Photo: CDE UAL)

The focus of the professional program of the committee meeting was the “E” (environment) leg of ESG. In his presentation, Gábor Szarvas focused on the relationship between ESG and buildings, head of the EU Taxonomy working group of the HuGBC, the Hungarian Environmentally Conscious Building Association, and the managing director of Greenbors Consulting Kft.

In connection with environmental sustainability and green building certifications, the most important current affairs and processes (energy crisis, EU regulations, global environmental problems), the present and future of green building certifications, decarbonization – i.e. how our buildings will become carbon neutral – were discussed, as well as also about climate adaptation and biodiversity.

ESG deals with global issues that all sectors, including the construction and real estate sectors, must find solutions to. These include, for example, epidemics like the coronavirus, health crises, the energy crisis, climate change and the extreme weather situations that are becoming more and more common in this context. The built environment is responsible for 34-37 percent of climate change, and it is also a fact that there are more man-made materials on Earth – calculated by weight – than biological materials created by the natural world. With regard to climate change, we are at the last warning, this is also stated in the latest report of the UN’s scientific advisory board, the IPC, published a few days ago, but if we change now, we do it globally, the processes can still be corrected. Climate change cannot be avoided, it is already happening and will affect the lives of all of us in the future, but it does not matter how big this effect will be

– emphasized Gábor Szarvas.

In terms of environmental indicators of ESG, an important new approach is the examination of the entire life cycle of buildings and properties. That is, it must be taken into account in the production of building materials occurring environmental effects, the environmental load arising during transport and construction, then operation and demolition. In the case of the operation of buildings and properties, the key is energy efficiency: first, it must be created with careful planning so that a building can be operated efficiently, and then it must be ensured that the now optimized amount of energy used during operation comes from a climate-neutral source.

Making our buildings climate neutral is also key (Photo: NASA)
Making our buildings climate neutral is also key (Photo: NASA)

Gábor Szarvas emphasized that the goal of the EU’s regulatory package, the Green Deal, is to channel financial resources into sustainable investments. The first pillar of this is the reporting obligation, in which companies operating in the financial field are already affected, but from 2024 it will also apply to large companies, regardless of their scope of activity. A year later, it will be mandatory for about 50,000 small and medium-sized companies operating in the EU and reaching a certain size and income to prepare an annual sustainability report according to the upcoming EU directive.

The second pillar is the definition of what counts as green and sustainable, as this will later be the basis of the various rating systems and the decisions of the supervisory bodies. The purpose of the EU Taxonomy framework is to make the content of the ESG framework clear to all regulators, authorities and market participants, as well as what can be considered sustainable operations and activities.

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