We are in: Presentation and Objectives
The importance of the building sector in changing our society towards a low carbon economy has been emphasised in reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Efficiency and energy saving are the main ways to reduce emissions in our economy since the options for reduction over the short, medium and long terms are analysed. And from this source, most of the reducible emissions are to be found in the increase of energy efficiency in building.
The building sector thus faces an unavoidable challenge to change towards sustainability and, specifically, to fit into a low carbon economy. The sector must create and maintain socially necessary habitability combined with maximum efficiency in the use of carbon, in an environment with strong limitations on the emission of greenhouse gases. This mission must be reached over the short and medium terms.
The mission affects all activities involved in habitability, from the use of power to maintain habitability in buildings to emissions caused by the manufacture of materials needed to build them. Although industrial sectors, such as the manufacturing of building materials, are under their own pressures to move towards low emissions per product unit, as a consumer of these products, the building set sector must be able to articulate new strategies to demand and use these materials efficiently to meet the social needs of building.
The current situation of a global economic crisis is an additional challenge and opportunity. A challenge because the needs of housing continue to be pressing, with greater effect in the poorest countries and the least favoured classes. An opportunity because in many countries, such as Spain, the crisis requires a profound remodelling of the building sector which may -- and must -- be oriented towards new environmental challenges.
In these circumstances, the renovation of existing buildings plays a fundamental role in achieving these challenges. Obviously, in terms of current standards, the reduction of overall emissions in the building sector requires setting very rigorous objectives for new buildings but this reduction can only be achieved with systematic action on current buildings. Although new buildings are low in emissions, only a reduction of emissions due to the use of existing buildings through renovations aimed at this objective can compensate for this additional increase and reduce the sector's emissions overall.
This renovation of existing buildings requires an expression at the urban scale, an optimum scale for tackling the social problems involved in the renovation and regenerating the necessary levels of investment, the encouragement of suitable technologies, the suitable management framework and, with them, the creation of jobs that awaken the economy and the possibilities of making the most of local opportunities.
Thus the sustainable revitalising and renovation of districts becomes an indispensable tool in the social challenge of obtaining a low carbon economy, an instrument with which to articulate a good part of the investments that must reactivate our economies, thus generating capital for the future.
With this vision, and to collaborate with it, GBC España is organising the 2010 International Sustainable Building Regional Conference, SB10mad, on 28-30 April 2010 with the theme, "Sustainable building, revitalising and renovation of districts: an urgent and essential step”