Frans Timmermans at the European Parliament. Image: European Parliament via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)
According to EU Climate Commissioner Frans Timmermans, one of the greatest challenges of creating a sustainable future is adapting the historic buildings in Europe’s centuries-old cities for climate change.
“Most of the buildings here now will be here in 2050. That’s the advantage and disadvantage of living in Europe,” Mr.Timmermans said.
The problem Timmermans addressed is that many historical buildings aren’t very energy efficient. In order to meet the goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement, it would be important to renovate houses to have a lower carbon footprint. However, combining sustainable renovations while preserving the authenticity of buildings is difficult.
Globally, almost 40% of energy-related greenhouse emissions come from buildings, with 28% coming from the operations of buildings themselves, according to the World Green Building Council. Only 0.5-1 per cent of building stock is being renovated annually.
Chances for small and mid-sized enterprises
Mr Timmermans called upon European leaders to understand they need to mobilize funds to speed up the reduction of energy consumption of buildings.
He mentioned that the need to address this challenge would be a chance for many small and medium-sized enterprises to go immediately out of the crisis in the building sector.
The topic was discussed at the Dublin Climate Summit organised by Callaway Climate Insights. Adapting built heritage to be more sustainable is one of many aspects of our battle with climate change, and something that will need to be discussed extensively going forward.
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