Construction sector in the spotlight at Climate Tech Forum
On 21 June, the Climate Tech Forum took place in Brussels. With important visitors, as both the royal couple of Belgium and the Netherlands attended. Embuild Flanders and Tracimat joined the panel discussion.
The Climate Tech Forum aims to connect the Netherlands and Flanders on topics such as the ecological footprint of construction, the importance of innovation, standardisation, industrialisation and digitalisation. Technology and science play an important role in our future, and in this way are also a means to achieve the climate goals. The construction sector was discussed at length during the three breakout sessions, which dealt with sustainability in construction, future materials and the role of digitalisation.
An example for circularity
Flanders and the Netherlands have already made great strides in terms of circularity and are both frontrunners in Europe, it became clear during the day. Moreover, certain projects and initiatives are an example for other regions and countries that want to focus on reuse and recycling. Consider Tracimat, a non-profit organisation for demolition management. This organisation is unique in its goal of managing demolition waste in such a way as to maximise reuse and recycling. Tracimat monitors the entire process: first the identification of materials, then the follow-up of material flows released during demolition from the site to the processor. By closely monitoring this process, hazardous waste, such as asbestos, is removed from the materials chain. Flanders can proudly propagate this expertise, especially if we can inspire other organisations with it.
Technology as a means to a climate-neutral future
Circularity, like technology and innovation, is not an end in itself. Most people are familiar with the climate goals: by 2050, Flanders must be climate neutral. This is only possible if we commit to, among other things, reusing and recycling materials, because constantly recreating them naturally leads to ever new emissions. But, Embuild Flanders stresses, this must not come at the expense of quality and safety. We should not be blinded by circular ambitions and should instead take a smart approach by taking a long-term view of our projects. A bridge made entirely of reused or recycled materials seems like a textbook example of sustainability, but is less sustainable if it has a shorter lifespan.
Digitalisation is also not an end in itself but helps us improve the building process. To put smart and climate-neutral buildings, we need to focus on tools such as BIM, making data available and exchanging it in material and building passports, artificial intelligence, ... with a focus on application by all companies. Both large and small companies need to work with these new tools and technologies.
Need for cooperation and standardisation
So there are already many good examples, but there is still a lot of room for knowledge sharing and cooperation. This was a recurring topic of discussion throughout the day. Standardisation is necessary and should be ambitious enough. Harmonising the current building standards and certification gives us the opportunity to cooperate across borders, but for this we need clarity: which materials can be reused, how will we use them, what quality requirements will be set, and so on. Closing the international construction cycle makes it easier for us to join forces.
All the more reason to enter the discussion at days like the Climate Tech Forum!