Towards the decarbonisation of the construction Industry

Towards the decarbonisation of the construction Industry

The Green Economy and the competitiveness of production systems must be intimately linked to the revival of territorial competitiveness of the productive systems of Southern Europe. Not surprisingly, the energy-environmental policy of the European Union includes among its founding pillars the rapid transition towards a low-carbon economy in which energy policies aimed at the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions represents a driving force for the growth of competitiveness, especially through the field of construction and in a logical supply chain anchored to the territory.

Support for growth, competitiveness and employment, in a context of growing synergy between innovations, use of effective technologies and efficient use of resources cannot be separated from the EU’s energy and climate objectives until 2030, summarized below:

  1. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels;
  2. The achievement of energy production quota from renewable sources at a rate equal to 27% of the total;
  3. Percentage of energy savings equal to 27%.

The ambitious energy targets set for Italy in 2020 (reduction of CO2: -13%; renewable energy: 17%; reduction in energy consumption in Mtoe: 27.90) and the growth of the green economy in our country shows healthier sectors compared to traditional ones and, in some cases, the “green economy” is the only one not to have shown signs of slowing or contraction, not only because of public support policies or for the cost reduction of renewable technologies.

The National Energy Strategy, NES (SEN), itself has set the paradigms of a progressive decarbonisation of Europe in compliance with the targets of the 2050 Energy Roadmap of the International Energy Agency.

The construction sector, not surprisingly is the target of CRIM-SAFRI’s sustainable production and consumption strategies, represents 40% of energy consumption and generates more than one third of the emissions of greenhouse gases.

It is estimated that the entire national public housing stock has an area of ​​250 million m2, for a total annual consumption of 5 Mtoe, of which about one quarter in the South. The 2012/27/EU directive on energy efficiency, adopted in Italy in March 2014, states that the 3% of the total floor area of ​​ air-conditioned buildings owned by the central government must be upgraded each year to at least meet the minimum energy performance requirements.

ENEA estimates that there are 2,904 government buildings with a gross floor area greater than 500 m2, about 14 million m2, of which about 4 million m2 in convergence objective Regions.

Scenarios involving energy efficiency retrofitting on surfaces of just over 2.7 million m2 estimated energy savings of approximately 460 GWh. A strategy for improving energy efficiency combined with the strengthening of intersectoral supply chains (design, production, management, etc.) can therefore represent a real driving force for growth and consolidation of the construction industry, especially if interpreted in a manner consistent with the stated guidelines of production strategies and sustainable consumption of the European Union.

Strategies for sustainable production and consumption aimed at the construction industry may also cause a large increase in public demand (Green Public Procurement) of the supply of goods and services for efficiency and eco-innovation. In this pool of potential demand new investment opportunities for SMEs could help boost the production chain of the industry, currently in full recession, especially if it were possible to increase the technological content and innovative approach in the sector.

The myriad of micro-enterprises in the sector clash with some endemic weaknesses, some of which are described below:

  1. Supply chains ae rarely characterized by “clustering” phenomena; company clusters are the only ones able to meet the dimensional and organizational deficits of individual micro-enterprises;
  2. Low technological content and a low propensity for innovation;
  3. Difficulties in gaining access to credit;
  4. Low propensity for internalization.

Therefore if any of the ambitious European targets aim for a quota of the manufacturing industry of Europe’s GDP of 20% – a target that cannot be achieved without the full involvement of the construction-research, development, and innovation sectors represent three key actions for the emergence of a decarbonised and sustainable manufacturing process, consistent with the strategies of sustainable production and consumption of the EU, able to wedge themselves into the stream of the “Green economy” to meet the challenges of globalization effectively.

The research center CRIM-SAFRI discussed the issues summarized above during the conference “Technologies powered by renewable sources: 20-20-20 targets”. During the conference the energy-environmental roadmap has been described as defined by the International Energy Agency until 2050.

The CRIM-SAFRI is actively working on optimizing the energy-environmental production processes of some select companies in the eligible territories and the eco-design of products/technologies belonging to the production chain of the construction industry, in adherence to the stated strategies of sustainable production and consumption in the EU.

Prof. Maurizio Cellura