Caption: The prefabricated roof module during the renovation of a model building, Magnusstrasse, Zurich (Architect: K. Viridén, Zurich).
«The time has come to signal a change of course in the building industry,» maintains Peter Richner, member of the board of directors at Empa, head of the institution’s Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department and member of the executive board of the Future Construction platform. In plain words this means moving away from the use of fossil fuels. The burning of fuel oil, gas and coal creates CO2, which is making a decisive contribution to climate change effects and the global temperature increase. In addition to this, in terms of fossil fuels Switzerland is 100 per cent dependent on imports. According to Richner, this will result in strongly increasing national energy prices as fossil fuel resources threaten to become scarcer. Currently in this country, buildings are responsible for more than half of all carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. “If we are serious about reducing CO2 emissions in Switzerland we cannot avoid involving the building industry,” explains Richner. And because buildings are replaced or renovated on average every thirty years, rapid action is necessary.
The first step towards CO2 optimized construction took place on November 15th at the autumn plenary session of “bauenschweiz” (“Swiss construction”), the umbrella organization of the Swiss building industry. On behalf of the Future Construction platform, Richner presented a strategy paper in which the construction industry, building authorities, financial institutions and technical universities would undertake the following measures:
- By 2015 the fitting of heating and cooling systems based on of energy derived from fossil-fuels would, wherever possible, be avoided in new buildings and during the renovation of older buildings.
- In addition, factors such as architecture and mobility, the integration into the overall urban planning situation and the use of building materials and resources should be so optimized that CO2 emissions are minimized.