Become an A&B portal user and receive giveaways!
Become an A&B portal user and receive giveaways!

It takes 5.4 million trees to reduce the carbon footprint of 70,000 homes.

29 of October '21

Interview with Henryk Kwapisz about the Saint-Gobain publication "The carbon footprint of a single-family house under a magnifying glass".

Saint-Gobain pledges to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. If the company is neutral, will buildings constructed with its products also become so?

It's a complex issue, like the implementation of a project itself consisting of many elements. By reducing the emissions of its operations, we affect, to some extent, the so-called embedded carbon footprint, that is, the one associated with the extraction and production of individual building products. This is a big step forward, because we are able to reduce the carbon footprint at the building's operation stage, for example by improving energy efficiency through the use of renewable energy sources. The embedded footprint cannot be improved. This is one side of the coin. The other is less optimistic - even if our materials carry a smaller footprint, a house is made of many different components. If the industry as a whole does not take care to reduce, the overall result will not be satisfactory.

Henryk Kwapisz, Saint-Gobain Institutional Relations Director

© Saint-Gobain

Isn't this direction being helped by successive updates on Technical Terms, including the latest one in January?

They have certainly changed the industry's attitude, increased environmental awareness and helped promote generations of products on the market that provide better thermal insulation. And this one is the best solution to the problem of highCO2 emissions at the operational stage. According to the analysis "The carbon footprint of a single-family house under a magnifying glass," developed for Saint-Gobain in Poland by KAPE in cooperation with HOMEKoncept, a well-designed building according to WT 2021, which uses, among others. ISOVER insulation, RIGIPS drywall systems and BUILDING GLASS, among others, avoids emitting about 25 tCO2eless over its 50-year life than the same house designed according to WT 2017, or about 15%. Which proves that a building that uses less energy, and is therefore very well insulated, has a lower carbon footprint and, crucially, also generates lower heating bills.

© Saint-Gobain

This means that the responsibility forCO2 emissions lies not only with manufacturers, but also with investors. In the residential construction segment, especially single-family homes, this is difficult to enforce.

Unfortunately, yes. As we said, the Technical Conditions focus on energy efficiency, but there is no document that regulatesCO2 indications for a house. Buildings are responsible for 38 percent of globalCO2 emissions, with 28 percent coming from the operation of buildings, and the remaining 10 percent due to the consumption of energy required for the production of materials and technologies used in construction. In Poland, 70,000 single-family buildings are constructed annually. What is the scale ofCO2 emissions here? In the aforementioned KAPE analysis, an interesting analogy emerges. If these 70,000 houses succeeded in minimizing emissions at all stages, the amount ofCO2 not emitted would correspond to the amount absorbed by 5.4 million trees growing for 50 years. Internet users estimated that there are 33 million trees in the Kampinos Forest, or 1/6 of the trees in the Kampinos Forest for 50 years works out to 70,000 excessCO2 emitting, houses.

© Saint-Gobain

Investors should therefore avoid greenwashing and bet on energy-efficient houses, passive houses. Is there anything else he can do?

This is a very good recommendation - it would already take care of a smaller built-in carbon footprint and that at the operation stage. Along the way, several more stages can be optimized to improve the overall result. The carbon footprint also consists of the energy consumed in transporting from the factory to the construction site or installing the product. By using companies that can deliver a larger mix of materials (e.g., wool, drywall, plaster, etc.) in a single delivery, we reduce the carbon footprint during the construction phase. A small thing, yet it also translates into convenience if you are building with the economy method.

The full version of the report is available free of charge on the website.

The vote has already been cast