Tickets to 'The Great, Green Building Debate' in Trondheim Wednesday were as popular as a big-name rock concert. Hydro’s president and CEO, Svein Richard Brandtzæg talked about energy use in buildings to en enthralled group of students from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
Property developer and investor Arthur Buchardt, leader of the environmental organization Zero, Einar Håndlykken, and architect Cathrine Vigander of Element Arkitekter also participated in the discussion that took place in the Comfort Hotel in Trondheim, hosted by Thomas Numme from the Norwegian TV 2 program “Senkveld”.
“Buildings represent 40 percent of the energy consumption in the western world, and thus is part of the climate challenge that you can help solve,” Brandtzæg said to the audience.
Technological solutions already available
Brandtzæg pointed out that Hydro draws on a wide range of competence in materials technology, energy efficiency and solar energy concepts in developing future building solutions.
Hydro is one of the largest suppliers of energy-efficient building systems to the European market. In June, Hydro opened its first energy-neutral building in Bellenberg, Germany – the Wicona Test Center, a testing facility for Hydro’s building systems brand Wicona.
“Many people think of energy-neutral buildings as something out of the future, but the technological solutions are already available today,” Brandtzæg said.
Buchardt, the developer and investor who is involved in large-scale hotel projects, pointed out that many business opportunities exist in utilizing technologies that can help reduce energy consumption and thus, emissions linked to global warming.
“I am completely convinced that hotel guests will increasingly prefer to stay in hotels that use less energy, and would be willing to pay a little extra to do so. It is good business to this about the environment this way,” Buchardt said.
Better cooperation needed for building projects
Architect Vigander agreed, adding that a holistic view from the first planning phase is essential if energy-efficient and energy-neutral buildings are to become more popular.
“Construction engineers, fire officials, HVAC engineers and architects have to be better at cooperating right from the beginning of a project if we are going to use good, holistic solutions that can lessen energy consumption and emissions,” she said.
Håndlykken, head of Zero, said he hoped that awareness about energy consumption in buildings would continue to grow, and would help encourage authorities to set stricter demands on energy use in buildings.
He also challenged the students to choose a career and employer in which they can use their skills to help solve climate-related problems.
Finding solutions to the climate problem
“Instead of making climate problems even worse than they are today, you have the opportunity to help find solutions to how we will live and work in buildings that are self-sufficient in renewable energy,” Håndlykken said.
Lars Hauk Ringvold, head of Hydro Building Systems, who summed up the debate, said that his message to all students who want to help change the world for the better was this:
“We have to find solutions that lower consumption without sacrificing quality of life. And that is possible with the solutions we’re developing in Hydro Building Systems.”