How to make our homes and buildings more sustainable in 2023

According to International Energy Association (IEA), the buildings sector in 2021 was responsible for approximately one-third of global energy- and process-related CO2 emissions.

In particular, 6% of these emissions are derived from the production of cement, steel and aluminum used for construction; 8% from the use of fossil fuels; and 19% from the generation of electricity and heat needed to maintain them.

This makes one thing clear: more attention needs to be paid to making our buildings greener and more sustainable.

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Thankfully, 2023 will be the year we start taking some significant steps toward that goal.

“The construction sector has not received the amount of attention it deserves given the havoc it wreaks on the environment,” Thalia RafaeliPartner at COMPASan early-stage venture capital firm based in Copenhagen, told TNW.

“Next year, I think the faster we provide funding to scale sustainable technologies for the built environment, the faster we will achieve economies of scale to enable widespread adoption,” he added.

Rafaeli specified that investments should focus on the following: low-emission concrete, green steel, cooling technologies to improve HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems, and heat pumps.

Optimistically, we are already seeing European companies developing projects around the production of low-emission concrete and green steel.

Among them is Finnish Betolar, a company is creating a cement-based alternative to concrete. There are also Swedish manufacturers H2 Green Steel And SSABwho are developing hydrogen-based green steel solutions.

Betolar’s Geoprime solution has an up to 80% lower carbon footprint. Credit: Betolar

However, there is a lot to do with pre-existing buildings. Dr Aidan Bell, co-founder of UK EnviroBuild he argues that this is a “significant” step that should start with ensuring a well-insulated home. “Insulation of the roof and the cavity of the walls [in particular is] very affordable,” Bell told TNW.

There are also additional technologies for those who have already done the basics, he added, telling us AirEx a type of smart hollow brick that reduces heat loss.

Bell expects two more trends to pick up in 2023: the increased installation of rooftop solar PV panels and the use of smart meters, which allow for “better awareness of electricity peaks and troughs.” Even simple steps like using machines overnight can help reduce peak demand on the national grid, he noted.

One way to favor this balance of energy consumption is through flexibility services. Chantel Scheepers — CEO of Power of the oak tree — believes they will likely become mainstream in 2023. The goal of these schemes is to offer consumers financial compensation for using less energy during peak hours, he told TNW.

Scheepers noted that they are gaining popularity in cities like London, where they are being adopted by multinational companies, such as the Financial Times and Pinsent Masons, showing their “huge potential” for optimizing energy use.

Ultimately, making our buildings more sustainable won’t just happen in 2023, but every little action we take is crucial in the long run, and there’s no time like the present to start.