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EUSEW2020 Webinar: Collaboration as the key point for an efficient construction sector

Collaboration is needed to buzz the construction sector into innovation and energy and climate transition policies, as well as the creation of qualified employment and social aspects; all this, meeting, at the same time, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). That is what the speakers agreed yesterday in the Webinar “Efficient buildings and houses: partnering for the SDGs and the EU Green Deal” organized by the REZBUILD project in the framework of the 15th edition of the European Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW2020).

Content of REZBUILD Webinar:

The event brought together five representatives involved in the construction sector and on the field of sustainability and Sustainable Development Goals who showed how green buildings contribute to the SDGs. The webinar included the participation of Elena Ruiz, from the International Department of Forética, an organization focused on sustainability and corporate social responsibility and member of the CSR Europe; Fernando Sigchos, European Projects and Communication Manager from European Builders Confederation (EBC); Veronika Schröpfer, Head of EU Research Projects at Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE-CAE); Bonifacio Felix López-Rey Gómez, from the Orcasitas Neighbors Association (Madrid); and Alfonso Pescador, Senior R&D Project Manager from the REZBUILD partner Placo Saint-Gobain. It was moderated by Susana Garayoa, Communication Manager of the REZBUILD Project for ZABALA Innovation Consulting.

Main conclusions:

“The building sector is important because it can impact in health and wellbeing, energy, jobs creation, innovation resilient, communication and cities, resource efficiency, climate change, natural capital and it is, of course, an example of partnership”, Elena Ruiz said. She insisted in the power of the sector to transform society, specially in terms of climate policies, but she warned of the need to increase speed to achieve objectives for 2030: “We have to rise ambition because indicators are telling us that we have to move faster”.

Alfonso Pescador showed the commitment of Placo Saint-Gobain and REZBUILD project for the future. “Sustainable business is part of our DNA”, he said. SGPlaco is developing super-insulating gypsum-based  products to reduce average energy consumption of about 50% in residential buildings.

As for Veronika Schröpfer, she gave examples about architectural solutions to comply with the SDG’s. She also defended a greater recognition of architectural solutions over technological ones: giving priority to simple, passive, low-tech, local solutions that do not consume energy and are less prone to human error.

Fernando Sigchos talked about how COVID-19 impacted on the construction sector, and highlighted that production in construction decreased by 14,1% in the euro area and by 12.0% in the EU, compared with February. There has also been additional health and safety costs and equity losses between 113 and 188 billion euros. Talking about their work program for the recovery he said: “Those topics are so broad that we won’t be able to solve if we don’t collaborate. We have to work together”. He also added his commitment to the human factor, which is included in ODS8 (Decent work and economic growth).

Bonifacio Félix López-Rey Gómez closed the session by recounting his experience of 50 years in Orcasitas, a neighbourhood in Madrid where neighbourhood associations have played an essential role in the renewal of the place. The first demand arose was to supply water to the neighborhood and nowadays they have achieved even a shared environmental project. The plan supplies economy heating to more than 2.000 families in the neighbourhood with an low CO2 emission. “In a cohesive neighbourhood, with participatory tradition and identity, it is possible to launch projects for environmental sustainability successfully because the projects started by the neighborhood are lived in a shared way by all the neighbors”, he said. The Orcasitas Neighbourhood Association has not only managed to create a sustainable neighbourhood, but has also achieved numerous social advances for groups in exclusion and is an example of collaboration with the public and private sectors.

The construction sector is the highest energy consumer (about 40%) and main contributor to GHG emissions (about 36%) in Europe. At this stage, tackling the refurbishment of existing residential buildings is a top priority and decarbonisation is the main goal aligned with the European energy and climate change policies. REZBUILD project aims to define a collaborative refurbishment ecosystem of materials and methodologies for achieving Near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB). The project will address these challenges by opening the construction sector with the integration of innovation technologies in order to pave the way towards an annual renovation rate of 2,5% instead of current rates lower than 1%.

Watch the video:


Presentations (PDF):

•    Elena Ruiz, International Department, Forética (member of CRS Europe). PDF (2MB)

•    Veronika Schröpfer, Head of EU Research Projects, Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE-CAE). PDF (2MB)

•    Fernando Sigchos, European projects responsible and Communication Manager, European Builders Confederation. PDF (2MB)

•    Alfonso Pescador, Senior R&D Project Manager, Placo Saint-Gobain. PDF (4MB)

•    Bonifacio Felix López-Rey Gómez, Orcasitas Neighbors Association (Madrid). PDF (4MB)

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