My take-away from COP26 – and what it means for the construction industry

Michal (Elle) Porter, Research Engineer at DuPont Performance Building Solutions, shares her lessons from COP26 and what she thinks it means for the building industry.

Northampton, MA –News Direct– DuPont

I logged into COP26 over the past week and a half and my main takeaway is: we are run out of time. Real, drastic action is needed, and it is needed now.

According to Professor Johan Rockstrom, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we need five to seven percent reduction in GHG emissions every year, starting next year. To put that into perspective, in 2020, when much of the world was stranded, we only saw a 6.4% reduction in CO2 emissions … and that was just a drop. temporary.

Immediate action is needed to limit the worst impacts of climate change. So what does this mean for the construction industry?

1. We must build smart.

By 2050, we will need to replace existing energy capacity based on fossil fuels with renewable sources of supply. Solomon Goldstein-Rose gave a breakdown expected clean energy production needs in the future. By 2050, it is estimated that we will need to produce five times more electricity than what we produce today. Compared to the clean energy we produce today, that’s twelve times more!

We know that building operations represent a significant portion of our global energy consumption and are responsible for 28% of annual GHG emissions. Everything, especially buildings, will need to be extremely efficient in order for the renewable energy capacity we build to meet the energy demands of our planet’s growing population.

Building intelligently means building efficient and energy-efficient structures. We need to maximize energy efficiency in new and existing construction, decarbonize the energy used to operate buildings, and use low-carbon materials in new construction.

Building smart also means building to higher energy efficiency standards. At DuPont, we advocate for changes that lead to meaningful decision making in building design.

2. Our buildings must be sustainable and resilient.

Serious climatic events are increasing all over the world. Even if we limit global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius, there will likely still be a temporary temperature overshoot. We must avoid tilting elements in our climate system that pose significant risks to societies and ecosystems. Signs of instability are already visible in climate subsystems today. Our buildings must withstand hurricanes and tropical storms, heat waves and cold waves, floods and seismic events.

At DuPont, we recognize the importance of providing solutions that help enable climate adaptation in the built environment. While many of our products today can be used to make the building envelope more resistant to weather events, we continue to seek opportunities where our building science knowledge and innovative capabilities can provide new solutions. adaptation to climate.

3. We need to have a hyper-focused innovation pipeline.

Years of work are spent innovating new products. Innovation portfolios therefore need to focus on solutions that will most effectively help reduce emissions in the short term.

We are committed to working on innovations that will have a positive and significant impact on the planet over the next five to ten years and we are fueling our innovation pipeline with these kinds of ideas. For example, in recent years, we have conducted significant innovation programs aimed at providing our customers with products with low embodied carbon content.

This year we have seen some of our efforts come to fruition. We are leading the transition to reduced GWP products like polystyrene and Froth-Pak – and seeing significant impact. Our Froth-Pak ™ spray foam reformulation uses carbon dioxide (CO2) as a spray foam blowing agent set which has a 99% lower global warming potential (GWP) compared to blowing agents used in the formulations. previous ones. With the introduction of low GWP offerings into the Styrofoam ™ branded insulation product line, these actions demonstrate important steps being taken to reduce emissions in the built environment. It’s exciting to see and it inspires us to do more.

It takes tremendous effort, passionate people, and bold leadership to do things differently and incorporate sustainable thinking into business growth decisions. COP26 made it clear that we must issue a call to action and keep swim together in the same way.

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