Be daring

Editorials by Mikael Eliasson

As I tore out a few pages of the daily newspaper to get a fire started in the kitchen stove, I noticed that they were about the major need for more building and all the challenges associated with this. As the fire began to catch and the “news” literally went up in smoke, my thoughts turned to the study that IVA presented at Almedalen 2014 concerning the construction sector’s impact on the climate. The conclusion then was that the greatest impact came from the construction process and not from the operational phase. It reminded me that the study put the impact from the construction process on a par with car emissions. And it is worth bearing in mind that construction has almost doubled since then.

The Swedish building agency Boverket was quickly tasked with investigating how climate-related requirements could be incorporated into the building regulations. In parallel with this, the construction material industry has driven and participated in work to interpret and translate the international ISO standard on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) into a more practical tool for the construction sector. The project was given the name “Robust LCA”. The construction sector thus has good tools for clearly and transparently calculating the impact of construction on the climate, which also includes opportunities to dynamically see the effects of improved and more efficient construction processes.

We have both international and clear national climate targets. For these to be broken down in a concrete and useful way in action plans, the construction sector has to be included, since it accounts for around 40 percent of the load on the climate. It is remarkable that there is no ambition even to require that a construction project has to undergo climate calculations.

Across Sweden, we have several ambitious and responsible municipalities who are stepping up to the plate with regard to construction and the climate. There are also many developers who are taking responsibility on their own initiative. These efforts should be rewarded with incentives that help to steer construction in the right direction. It is the politicians’ responsibility to establish the vision and set out the direction of travel on these crucial issues. Through the “Robust LCA” tool, the industry has helped to create a means to calculate its impact on the climate. Be daring.