Rockwool is making the case for energy efficiency as the workhorse of climate change solutions.
By Mirella A. Vitale
When most people think about solving global climate change, they think about the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, preserving rainforests so they can serve as carbon sinks, or electrifying transportation. There has been significant progress on all these fronts, and each is extremely important for tackling climate change.
However, we’re witnessing a discouraging energy trend globally: energy demand grew by 3.1% in 2017. By 2050, energy demand from buildings worldwide will increase by 30% if nothing is done. If our electricity portfolio continues to include burning fossil fuels at any appreciable level, drastically cutting energy waste is even more critical.
The International Energy Administration has said that to meet the Paris Climate Agreement, we’ll have to retrofit practically the entire global building stock to make it as energy-efficient as possible. That’s the core mission of Rockwool* — offering products for buildings that provide meaningful solutions to the global climate crisis.
Addressing the Climate Crisis with Energy Efficiency
Even at a time when countries like the United States and China are deploying renewables at a groundbreaking rate, we won’t be able to “renewable energy” our way out of climate disaster. Increasing the investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy must be our new normal for the global economy if we want to effectively address climate change.
Research from Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute recently pointed out that: “Current climate change thinking argues that the world has to use energy at least 3% more productively each year in order to stay below 2 degrees.” All indications are that we can do this, and with great benefits to the economy.
Our approach to solving the climate problem is to make energy-efficient materials that reduce emissions and can be used in everything from large-scale industrial buildings to carbon-neutral, “passive house” structures – those are the buildings that can “save 90% of the energy, heating and cooling of conventional buildings and 75% of all energy usage when electricity is included,” as the Sierra Club points out. They are the buildings of the future, and these are already being built today.
In the U.S., energy efficiency is the workhorse of climate change solutions because it gets serious results. According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), “Buildings have a lifespan of 50-100 years during which they continually consume energy and produce CO2 emissions. If half of new commercial buildings were built to use 50% less energy, it would save over 6 million metric tons of CO2 annually for the life of the buildings — the equivalent of taking more than 1 million cars off the road every year.”
How Does Rockwool Address Energy Efficiency?
Our approach to energy efficiency is already having significant, global impact. We use the natural attributes of stone to make energy-efficient products that reduce energy consumption and carbon pollution. Over its lifetime of use, the eco-friendly building insulation we produced in 2017 will save 85 times the energy consumed and 80 times the carbon emitted in its production.
And on a broader sustainability note, as we transition to a more sustainable future, we also need to take a fresh look at the construction process for new and retrofitted buildings. Presently, most construction products are tossed into landfills at the end of their lifespan, but the global economy needs to shift and utilize products that can be deconstructed and reused. These materials help cut pollution significantly and have the added benefit of saving money by lowering energy costs. It’s another reason why we do what we do. Rockwool, made from lava, can be repurposed and reused into future construction products.
As many of us gather at the annual Climate Week NYC – it’s important that we remember that energy efficiency is key to addressing pressing climate issues related to building and construction. Without tackling energy waste and construction waste it’s unlikely that we’ll meet our energy consumption while still focusing on the climate. If we give energy efficiency serious consideration we can create a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous world.
Supporting Data from IEA and USGBC:
- “World electricity demand increased by 3.1%,” in 2017 and will continue to increase.
- “Global coal demand rose about 1% in 2017, reversing the declining trend seen over the last two
- “World oil demand rose by 1.6% (or 1.5 million barrels a day) in 2017, a rate that was much higher than the annual average of 1% seen over the last decade.”
- “Global energy demand grew by 2.1% in 2017”
- “Commercial and residential buildings are tremendous users of electricity, accounting for more than 70% of electricity use in the U.S.”
- “Buildings have a lifespan of 50-100 years during which they continually consume energy and produce CO2 emissions. If half of new commercial buildings were built to use 50% less energy, it would save over 6 million metric tons of CO2 annually for the life of the buildings—the equivalent of taking more than 1 million cars off the road every year.”
About the Author: Mirella Vitale is Senior Vice President for Marketing, Communications, and Public Affairs and a member of Group Management at ROCKWOOL, where her portfolio also includes sustainability, pricing, and market intelligence. Prior to joining ROCKWOOL in 2016, Ms. Vitale was Vice President for Global Marketing at Vestas Wind Systems.
*This post is supported by Rockwool Group; images courtesy of Rockwool