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New Energy World
New Energy World embraces the whole energy industry as it connects and converges to address the decarbonisation challenge. It covers progress being made across the industry, from the dynamics under way to reduce emissions in oil and gas, through improvements to the efficiency of energy conversion and use, to cutting-edge initiatives in renewable and low carbon technologies.
The world’s first logistics facility to reach net zero across operational and embodied carbon – and without external off-setting – is to be built in Bålsta, Sweden.
The facility will be built by urban investor NREP. Embodied carbon has been designed out from each element of the 20,000 m2 building, with carbon neutrality expected to be achieved during the building’s lifecycle. Low carbon materials could potentially reduce emissions by around 60% compared to typical logistics buildings, according to the company.
The biggest reduction levers lay in the structure of the roof and walls, potentially adding up to half of the CO2 savings. The company plans to replace traditional steel walls and roofs with a cross-laminated timber structure and façade. This will be coupled with a new type of organic insulation that binds more CO2 than it emits during the production process. NREP also plans to use green cement for the foundation, which it claims should enable around 30% CO2 reduction compared to a typical warehouse foundation.
To reach net zero NREP will include the carbon sink qualities of timber and other organic materials. Lifetime CO2 emissions will be brought down with a disassembly design principle, ensuring a high re-use factor of biogenic materials, preventing CO2 from escaping into the atmosphere by end of life, explains the company.
NREP says that net zero operational carbon will be achieved by utilising 100% renewable green electricity. Furthermore, during the operational phase, there is the potential to become ‘energy positive’, using bespoke solar, heat pump and battery storage solutions to return surplus energy back to the grid, it reports.
Building and construction sector ‘off track’ for decarbonisation
In related news, a new report from the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction has found that despite an increase in energy efficiency investment and lower energy intensity, the building and construction sector’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions have rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic to an all-time high.
Released at the latest round of climate talks at COP27, the 2022 report finds that the sector accounted for over 34% of energy demand and around 37% of energy and process-related CO2 emissions in 2021.
The sector’s operational energy-related CO2 emissions reached 10 GtCO2e – 5% over 2020 levels and 2% over the pre-pandemic peak in 2019. In 2021, operational energy demand for heating, cooling, lighting and equipment in buildings increased by around 4% from 2020 and 3% from 2019. This, according to the report, means that the gap between the climate performance of the sector and the 2050 decarbonisation pathway is widening.
‘Years of warnings about the impacts of climate change have become a reality,’ says Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. ‘If we do not rapidly cut emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, we will be in deeper trouble. The buildings sector represents 40% of Europe’s energy demand, 80% of it from fossil fuels. This makes the sector an area for immediate action, investment, and policies to promote short and long-term energy security.’
Decarbonising the buildings sector by 2050 is critical to delivering these cuts. To reduce overall emissions, the sector must improve building energy performance, decrease building materials’ carbon footprint, multiply policy commitments alongside action and increase investment in energy efficiency, the report says.