“If Europe is to become the first climate-neutral continent, the building sector must seek pragmatic solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. However, there are significant challenges for both existing building stock and new buildings.”
Marc Grosskopf / Dr Hannes Raoul Endriß
The EU’s Green Deal sets member states the legally binding goal of climate-neutrality by 2050. One Green Deal objective includes a mandatory refurbishment strategy to drive near-zero-energy buildings (NZEB) for existing building stock. In order to achieve conformity with EU requirements for new builds, the primary energy demand should be 10% under the national standard NZEB. Disclosure of the global warming potential for buildings with a floor space of 5,000 m² or more is also necessary.
The building sector must therefore seek pragmatic solutions to reduce GHG emissions as quickly as possible. The four pillars of energy-efficient buildings should be addressed, factoring in every future investment decision, from new construction to energy-efficient refurbishment of existing buildings and individual measures:
1. Slashing GHG emissions by reducing energy demand
2. Replacing fossil energy carriers with energy from renewable sources
3. Saving resources and using sustainable and recyclable raw materials
4. Sector coupling
When it comes to new buildings, only climate-neutral structures should be realised. This not only mitigates climate change, it also ensures security of investments and the preservation of value over the following decades. Actions in this context primarily include excellent thermal insulation in compliance with the Passive House standard, own energy generation systems, and avoidance of the use of fossil fuels.
TÜV SÜD‘s digital lifecycle tools and processes deliver major efficiency gains, particularly in the new building conceptual design and planning phase. We help our clients across the world to compensate for the additional costs of more energy-efficient equipment and adequate building envelopes. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is highly beneficial and BIM managers should be involved in a project from the planning phase, in order to define binding requirements for the various trades and ensure a positive flow of information between all parties involved.
We use dynamic thermal simulations (DTS) of buildings and consider comfort criteria to reduce energy demand for heating and cooling. This includes the review of results, at one-minute intervals, of an entire year of real weather data at the respective location. General values for building envelopes, insulation thickness and window glazing in similar climate zones are also estimated for standardised residential buildings. Our simulations will identify the best possible compromise between insulation use and an energy demand reduction.
Our experts ensure that heating, cooling and electricity loads are scaled to the respective zones in a building and are no longer supplied universally. By understanding these demands over the course of a year, planners can develop the building supply using energy from renewable sources or a combined cooling, heat and power plant (CCHP) at an early stage of planning or refurbishment.
To calculate the global warming potential (GWP) of a building project, TÜV SÜD’s lifecycle assessment excludes high-emission materials right from the outset. As grey emissions account for as much as 30% of lifecycle GHG emissions, TÜV SÜD includes them in its calculation. This enables planners to make a fully informed decision on a new build versus refurbishment of existing building stock.
However, in general existing buildings face different challenges from new builds and therefore require different optimisation measures. For example, before opportunities are defined, the as-is condition must be identified and made transparent. TÜV SÜD achieves this by running an energy check or ESG due diligence, to identify weaknesses in the building envelope, equipment, use, settings or equipment operation; enabling dedicated investments or organisational measures to be implemented which reap significant savings.
Using these data as a baseline, our experts define a roadmap for achieving the climate-protection targets. This includes the development of building- specific long-term action plans for property portfolio holders, which list measurable targets and the activities that are necessary to reduce building GHG emissions, in both the short and long-term.
Another important digital tool is energy monitoring, which TÜV SÜD uses in the development and control of measures in accordance with the Plan-Do-Check-Act principle and ISO 50001. Technical monitoring offers the possibility of subjecting the HVAC to a performance check and thus achieving optimizations. For the identification and optimisation of significant energy uses that must be tackled as early as possible, the ideal solution consists of automated monitoring of the building’s areas and/or equipment at user level.
Decarbonising the buildings and construction sector is critical to achieving climate neutrality. Actions must therefore focus on reducing the energy demand and supporting the use of renewable energy sources. Buildings being constructed and investments made today that fulfil 2050 energy-efficiency targets will not require any GHG-related emissions refurbishment in the next three decades. Nor is a decrease in property value likely, given the transparency of the building’s conformity with EU regulations over the coming decades.